Patriots Stunned
Morgantown wins sectional title, 57-55

March 5, 2011 - By RICK THORP

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WHEELING - The Morgantown boys' basketball roster shows that Taylor Price stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 230 pounds.

It doesn't, however, detail how big his back is.

Well, it must be pretty large as his teammates jumped on Friday night and rode off with a West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One championship.

Price scored a game-high 29 points including the winning free throws with 1.5 seconds left and grabbed seven rebounds, as the No. 4-ranked Mohigans rallied for a 57-55 victory against top-ranked Wheeling Park in a game that came down to the wire and then some.

''This was a great win for us,'' Morgantown coach Tom Yester said in a raucous Mohigans' locker room.

''To not give up and to pull it out up here ... (Park) doesn't lose too many games, especially here.''

The Mohigans will play host to Fairmont Senior on Tuesday night in a regional co-final with a state tournament berth at stake.

The Patriots, meanwhile, will have to travel to Kingwood to battle No. 2-ranked Preston County in order to get to Charleston.

''With the (tournament) format we have we can't dwell on this,'' a subdued Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia said.

''We had shots (to win). We had a layup spin out, we had a couple of foul shots not go in. That's basketball. Those things happen.''

The finish was a frantic one that saw Morgantown (21-3) storm back after trailing by as many as 11 points midway through the third quarter.

Morgantown's Michael Keffer tied the game at 55-55 with 23 seconds left and Park immediately brought the ball down for the last shot.

Bubby Goodwin found an opening and fired up a shot that missed.

Morgantown grabbed the rebound and the ball was quickly passed to 6-8 Nathan Adrian at halfcourt. Adrian then found a streaking Price cutting toward the basket.

Price caught the ball, went up and had his shot swatted away by Park's Boo Lathon and the ball went out of bounds as the clock read all zeros.

Morgantown coaches wanted goaltending to be called, but instead officials opted for a shooting foul on Lathon.

With Price standing at the free-throw line, a few minutes passed before the officials determined that 1.5 seconds needed to be put back on the clock.

Even after the waiting, Price made both free throws.

Park inbounded the ball to its 3-point line where Goodwin quickly tipped the pass to Marquez O'Neal, but his desperation shot hit the top of the backboard as time expired.

''Nate made a beautiful play and Price knocked down the foul shots,'' Yester said. ''That's what you expect from an 80-percent free-throw shooter.''

Yester said his team practices end-of-game plays like the one that happened Friday night.

''We do, but you never know how it's gonna play out,'' he said. ''You also don't practice against (Park). That's a heckuva a team over there.''

The final quarter featured four ties, all coming under the 5-minute mark.

The Patriots (21-3) squandered that large third-quarter lead, but still had a 49-45 advantage with 6 minutes to play.

Adrian canned back-to-back jumpers to tie the game at 49-49 with 4:40 remaining.

Following a Goodwin miss (he made just one field goal in the second half), Yester called timeout.

Following the stoppage, Keffer put up a shot that missed, but Price was there for an offensive rebound and tip-in that gave the Mohigans a 51-49 advantage, their first since the opening seconds of the game.

Vondel Bell followed with a tip in of his own moments later that knotted the score at 51-51 with 3:23 left. He led four Patriots in double figures with 12 points.

With both teams in the bonus, Morgantown's Evan Berryhill missed the front end of a 1-and-1, only to see Price storm in, grab the rebound and put back the miss for a 53-51 Mohigans lead.

Goodwin was fouled at the 2:58 mark and calmly converted both attempts to tie the game again, this time at 53-53.

Adrian missed a pair of free throws with 2:38 left and, after the Patriots regained possession, Bell scored off a nifty feed from Goodwin that gave Park the lead back at 55-53 with 2:10 remaining.

With a little more than a minute left, O'Neal was fouled. He missed both attempts.

On Morgantown's ensuing possession, Price broke open off a screen, but the pass went over his head and out of bounds giving Park the ball.

With 45 seconds left, Errin Baynes drove the lane for what appeared to be a sure layup. But the ball spun out into the hands of a Mohigan.

Following a timeout, Keffer got the ball on the wing, drove the baseline and scored with 25 seconds left to tie the game at 55-55.

The contest was reminiscent of last Saturday's 54-52 Patriots victory in Morgantown. But the Mohigans dominated on the boards, this time. Adrian had nine and Keffer also had seven.

''We only turned the ball over eight times, but they kicked our butts on the boards,'' Jebbia said. ''We got outrebounded by nine. They've got a size advantage on us and the exploited that in the second half.''

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