Block at buzzer sends Runner, MHS to state
Morgantown’s Lusk hits 2 key FTs, goes 6/6
BY ERIC HANLON The Dominion Post

FAIRMONT — Without question it was the biggest block of Morgantown High senior Sam Runner’s career.
With MHS holding a two-point lead, Runner swatted away Fairmont Senior’s Gannon Flowers’ last-second 3-point attempt to send the Mohigans to the state tournament.
“It’s fitting,” MHS head coach Tom Yester said. “Our best player put the game away with a blocked shot.”
Typically in game-winning scenarios, it is the smaller, more gifted shooters a team relies on. No one told that to the 6-foot-7 senior.
“I guess stopping the little guys from winning it at the buzzer is my job,” Runner said with a smirk.
Following a small scrum for the rebound on the Polar Bears’ first failed game-winning attempt, Runner reacted the instant Flowers came away with the ball.
“When I saw he got the ball, I knew I had to do whatever it took to not let him score,” Runner said, “and I stretched out and got my fingertips on it.”
Runner finished the day with a team-high 12 points and 11 rebounds — and two blocked shots.
Of course, Runner’s block was made relevant by the foul shooting of MHS sophomore Sammy Lusk.
“He stepped up,” Runner said. “He was Mr. Clutch.”
On the Mohigans’ final possession, with 34 seconds left, Lusk nailed two free throws to give them the lead.
“I had a dream coming in this week that I was going to make a big shot for us to win the game,” Lusk said with a laugh. “To be a sophomore and in that situation, and to be able to send our seniors to the state tournament is great.”
All six of Lusk’s points came from the foul line (6-for-6).
“Lusk was awesome from the free throw line,” Yester said. “You never know what’s going to happen, but he’s probably our best free throw shooter.”
But it may have been the times when he wasn’t scoring that proved to be even more valuable to the Mohigans. Frequently, Lusk drove to the net. While none of his field-goal attempts went in, the Mohigans often got easy offensive rebounds.
“I threw up a few bad ones, but I figure that if I can get a shot off, the big guys can get the rebound and an easy score,” Lusk said. “It’s as good as an assist to me.”
“He’s the lead guy with the ball,” Yester added. “The difference in the game was his ability to take it to the hole and get shots off and to draw fouls.”
The MHS defense was also special against Fairmont Senior.
After digging an 11-3 hole to start the game, the Mohigans clamped down and limited the Polar Bears to three points over an 8:30 minute stretch and 14-3 MHS run.
“We put the word ‘defense’ on our practice shorts this week,” Yester said. “Defense wins and today our defense was clutch.”
It was an impressive feat considering the scoring ability of the Polar Bears.
“We’ve been playing great defense all year,” Lusk said. “We knew they had shooters and we knew what we had to do to stop them.”
The state tournament begins March 17, in Charleston.
Lusk 0 6-6 6, Barnett 3 0-0 9, Parsons 3 1-2 8, Runner 4 4-6 12, Colombo 1 0-1 2, Price 2 0-1 4, Drake 0 0-0 0, Keffer 1 0-0 2, Blemings 0 0-0 0, Berryhill 0 0-0 0, Meador 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 11-16 43.
Marra 2 0-0 5, Moore 0 2-2 2, Logan 2 0-0 5, Sevier 3 3-4 10, Garrison 5 2-4 14, Horton 0 0-0 0, Flowers 1 2-2 5. Totals 13 9-12 41.
Morgantown 9 10 14 10 — 43 Fairmont Senior 14 8 12 7 — 41
3-point goals: MHS 4 (Barnett 3, Parsons), FSHS 6 (Garrison 2, Marra, Logan, Flowers, Sevier).

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post Morgantown’s Sam Runner drives for a layup as Fairmont Senior defender Travon Horton misses a block attempt.