MHS escapes Elkins
Runner to rescue for Mohigans

The first three quarters of Tuesday’s game went about as well as Elkins could have hoped.
The action was slow-paced, the Tigers hit a couple timely shots and the Morgantown High boys’ basketball team couldn’t take advantage of its noticeable size advantage.
“They just wanted to hang around and see if we would give it to them,” MHS coach Tom Yester said.
That all changed when the Mohigans got the ball into the hands of Sam Runner down and around the basket.
The 6-foot-7 junior center took care of the rest, leading the Mohigans to a 63-59 NCAC win, at the MHS gymnasium.
Elkins guard Brett Shreve hit a 3-pointer just seconds into the fourth quarter, giving the Tigers a 39-38 lead. On the ensuing possession, Runner finished a 3-point play with a foul and free throw. That was just the beginning, as Runner scored 14 fourthquarter points, sparking a run that pushed MHS ahead by nine, 52-43, just a couple minutes after it trailed.
“I got a little angry,” said Runner, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds. “I was having a rough game and got tired of playing like that and just came out more motivated. I got the ball more and starting finishing and going up stronger. I got some fouls and went to the foul line.”
Elkins’ tallest player (David Doerr) was four inches shorter than Runner, yet after four quick points in the first eight minutes, the Mohigans center had just one other field goal heading into the fourth quarter.
Runner wasn’t happy with his defense and didn’t like the way he was playing offensively. The Mohigans were slow passing the ball around the perimeter, and Yester tabbed his team’s defense as “below average.”
“I wanted to show that’s not how I play, and the fourth quarter I tried to change to that,” Runner said.
That he did.
It wasn’t like Runner was the last to score in an offensive shootout, but in a game in which neither team scored more than 15 points in any of the first three quarters, Runner poured in his 14, including three and-one plays, over a four-minute stretch to start the fourth. When MHS couldn’t pass it in to Runner, the junior crashed the boards and converted on putbacks.
By the time he was done, the Mohigans (12-6, 11-1 NCAC) had only to close out the game with free throws.
“We didn’t find Sam until the fourth quarter, and that’s our fault,” Yester said. “He’s your No. 1 option, and the kids have to recognize that and enjoy it, and then if he gets a quick double team, we skip the ball out and shoot out with it.”
Typically when Runner has produced — he’s the Mohigans’ leading scorer at 11.5 points per game heading into Tuesday — MHS has had success. That’s the role Runner understands he fulfills, which only becomes more crucial as the Mohigans’ regular season winds down.
“It seems that way. I like to think of myself as that type of player,” Runner said. “I would like the team to do well if I’m not, and we can win if I struggle.”
However, at times, such as the first three quarters Tuesday, MHS has struggled when Runner hasn’t gotten his touches. That will be a factor in Morgantown’s final games before the sectional tournament begins, in March.
“He can do [that] when he gets his touches,” MHS’s Taylor Simmons of Runner’s fourth-quarter performance. “Just sometimes he’s not getting his touches. That’s what we need to stay focused on: keep getting the ball in to him.”
Simmons finished with 10 points, while Jordan Barnett also had 10 and four rebounds for Morgantown. Ryan Ware led Elkins with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Ryan Parsons hit three first-half 3-pointers for Morgantown, which hosts John Marshall at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Behind five double-digit scorers, the MHS JV team (16-0) beat Elkins, 95-43. Jordan Barnett had 17, Taylor Price 16, Carlton Drake 12, T.J. Elchuck 11 and Nathan Colombo 10.
ELKINS (5-11)
Knight 4 2-2 10, Shreve 2 0-0 6, Harsh 3 0-0 6, Ware 8 0-0 20, Doerr 0 2-4 2, Moore 3 4-5 10, Hammond 2 0-0 5, Badgett 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 8-11 59.
Simmons 2 5-6 10, Jackson 1 4-4 6, Wilson 2 1-2 6, Runner 8 4-5 20, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Caridi 0 0-0 0, Parsons 3 0-0 9, Barnett 3 3-4 10, Colombo 0 0-0 0, Meador 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 17-20 63.
Elkins 12 9 14 24 — 59 Morgantown 15 11 10 27 — 63
3-point goals: Elkins 7 (Ware 4, Shreve 2, Hammond), Morgantown 6 (Parsons 3, Simmons, Wilson, Barnett).

Ron Rittenhouse/The Dominion Post Morgantown High’s Michael Caridi (25) plays keep-away with Elkins’ Austen Moore on Tuesday.