Mohigans’ boys headed to state
Keffer’s huge effort helps: 14 pts., 7 rebs.

For The Dominion Post

When you think about it, the state boys’ basketball playoffs really started Tuesday night, even though the teams playing in the Class AAA Region 1 finals weren’t anywhere near Charleston.
After all, the state tournament is single elimination, but so was the Morgantown-Fairmont Senior matchup, the classic “Win and you’re in, lose and turn in your uniforms Wednesday” scenario.
So, even though the Mohigans had been ranked near the top of the state all season, and pounded out a pair of convincing wins against the Polar Bears earlier, it took one more solid effort before MHS athletic director Dan Erenrich knew for sure that he needed to schedule buses for the trip to the Capital City. Time to make that call, Dan. His Mohigans held Fairmont Senior to single-digit scoring in three of four quarters and pulled away in the fourth to leave no doubt with a dominating, 58-34 victory. The win sends the Mohigans to the state tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Senior MHS swingman Michael Keffer scored eight of his 14 points early, attacking the rim and hitting a silky smooth jumper or two, and he definitely had plans to be aggressive right from the tip.
“We wanted to get up right away on them, didn’t want them to hang around and make a game of it late,” he said with a broad grin. “I wanted to bring my A’ game right away, end it as quick as possible, then sit on the bench and rest. And I thought we took care of business out there pretty well.”
The Mohigans (22-3) used a suffocating matchup zone defense in the first half to hold the Polar Bears to eight points in each of the first two quarters. Five early Polar Bears turnovers turned into quick transition buckets, including a thunderous dunk by Mohigans sophomore forward Nathan Adrian.
Some sloppy half-court offensive sets in the second quarter led to a four-minute scoreless stretch by MHS, allowing the visitors to creep seven points behind with two minutes left in the half. But Adrian, Taylor Price and Keffer each converted points in the paint late, stretching the Mohigans’ lead to 11 at the break.
MHS enjoyed plenty of great looks early in the second half, but the shots just wouldn’t fall. However, good defense seldom has a slump, and the Mohigans’ quick hands, quicker feet and intimidating length down low kept FSHS struggling from the field and, more importantly, off the foul line.
Still, some long-distance shooting by Fairmont Senior (14-9) kept the deficit at single digits.
But a big turning point came late in the third quarter, when MHS guard Sam Lusk took a huge charge on a drive from FSHS guard Jarin Hilson that could have cut the MHS lead to seven points or fewer.
“That was a big defensive play for us right there,” MHS coach Tom Yester said during the net-cutting ceremony following the win. “The basket doesn’t count, and Sam ends up driving the length of the floor at the buzzer to put us up by 14. Big turnaround.”
Up by 14, eight minutes from the state tournament, and it was time to put the hammer down. And for MHS, that means Taylor Price. The senior centerforward had uncharacteristically struggled a bit on offense in the first half, mostly with his ball-handling, but his teammates pounded the ball down low to him early in the fourth. Price put six quick points on the board, and when his steal led to fellow senior Carlton Drake’s driving lay-in to put MHS up by 20 points with three minutes on the clock, it was sweet, sweet garbage time.
“It was a very good teamwide defensive effort tonight,” Yester said. “We hedged very well at the top of the key, helped real well, and denied the shot over the top. They couldn’t drive on us, which kept us out of foul trouble and kept them off the line. We also rebounded very well, and that really made the difference. I was real proud of the way we took care of business.”
Adrian led the Mohigans with 16 points and 10 boards, while Keffer added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists to his allcourt game.
With one season-long goal accomplished, Keffer and his teammates look forward later in the week to lear ning their seeding in the Big Dance that starts in Charleston next Wednesday.
“I can’t believe my time as a Mohigan is almost over,” he said. “It’s shocking to me, really, but I’m glad my last game at home was a win, and it’s a great feeling to know that we have more basketball to play.”
Washington 2 0-0 4, Waites 0 1-1 1, Holbert 1 0-0 2, Marra 4 0-0 9, Travon Horton 2 2-3 6, Osbourn 1 2-2 5, Besedich 1 0-0 2, Hilson 1 2-2 5. Totals 12 7-8 34.
Lusk 2 1-2 5, Watson 2 0-0 5, Keffer 6 2-2 14, Drake 2 0-0 4, Adrian 7 2-2 16, Blemmings 1 0-0 2, Price 5 2-4 12. Totals 25 7-10 58.
Fairmont Senior 8 8 10 8 — 34 Morgantown High 14 13 13 18 — 58
3-point goals: Fairmont Senior 3 (Marra, Osbourn, Hilson), Morgantown 1 (Watson).

Ron Rittenhouse/The Dominion Post
Morgantown High coach Tom Yester hoists the trophy net as his team celebrates Tuesday’s victory.

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post
MHS’s Michael Keffer (right) swats the ball away from Fairmont Senior’s Colby Besedich.