Showcase tips off at UHS today
Hawks and Mohigans among the 11 teams

The Dominion Post

TICKETS: Single-day passes are $15 for adults. Two-day passes are $20. Admission is free for all college and high school students today and $7 Saturday. (WVU game not included). Get tickets at the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau, at 68 Donley St., in the Wharf District, or Triple S Harley-Davidson, 308 Cheat Road.
The Remember the Miners Mountaineer Showcase basketball classic returns to University High today and Saturday. The Mountaineer Showcase (previously known as the Prime-Time Shootout) is intended to show off some of the nation’s best high school basketball players and allow fans to see some of tomorrow’s stars.
“It’s really wonderful for our school and our community,” UHS head coach Paul Ingle said. “The more people we can get into our gym and the more that we can get our kids exposure, it will only advance what we’re trying to do here.”
Morgantown and University will compete, along with nine other teams. UHS plays Bishop Kearney (Rochester, N.Y.) at 11 a.m. Saturday. MHS takes on Withrow (Cincinnati) at 6:30 p.m. the same day.
It is the third time MHS will compete in the showcase — it won in upset fashion both previous years.
Local coordinator Cliff Sutherland “does it right and he takes care of the teams,” MHS head coach Tom Yester said. “Everybody gets a shirt and a little food and a ticket to the WVU game” against Cincinnati, at 3 p.m. Saturday, at the Coliseum. “And obviously, we get some extra ink playing against these topflight players. So it’s a pretty nice time for the kids.”
“We definitely look forward to playing in big tournaments and there are a lot of big teams coming to this one,” MHS junior Nick Colasante said.
UHS will make its first appearance in the showcase.
“It’s pretty exciting and I think the kids are really looking forward to it,” Ingle said. “Last year, we didn’t have a chance to participate, but all the feedback we got was so positive. We know it will be a challenge, but it’s one we want to take on and it’s something the kids will talk about for a long time.”
“Our seniors really wanted to play in it (the last two years) and I think we could’ve played well, but it would’ve been tough,” UHS junior Curl Dixon said.
UHS vs. Bishop Kearney
The Hawks (6-6) have played well of late, winning four straight games before losing to visiting Preston (5-7), 55-45, on Wednesday.
But as well as they’ve played, Ingle knows his Hawks face a daunting task.
“We’ll mix it up a little, probably zone them a little and try to have some fun,” he said. “Whatever happens, I think it’s important for us to stay positive regardless if we’re up 20 or down 20.”
University — whose two tallest starters are junior Travis Tomer (6-4) and senior Scott McLaughlin (6-2) — will be vastly undersized against Bishop Kearney, which boasts a bevy of heavily recruited prospects.
“They’re going to have all the pieces,” Ingle said. “They have the big 6-9 kid (junior Chinonso Obokoh, from Nigeria), and he’ll be a real handful for us. And they’ve also got a very highly touted freshman (Thomas Bryant) who is the real deal. He’s 6-7, can step away from the basket and has a lot of people interested in him.”
Obokoh, who has been targeted by WVU, should draw a crowd at the University High gym.
However, Obokoh is questionable for the showcase as he has been hampered by an ankle injury. According to Sutherland, though, he is expected to play.
Ingle will get a good look at Bishop Kearney before facing them. Bishop Kearney plays at 6 p.m. today, against Huntington Prep.
MHS vs. Withrow
Like UHS, Morgantown (8-1) will be considerably smaller than its showcase opponent.
“My biggest guy (junior Nathan Adrian) is 6-foot-9, 190 pounds at the most. Their guy (senior Rozell Nix) is 6-10, around 300 pounds,” Yester said with a chuckle. “Then you have [junior Devin] Williams who is 6-8, 220 pounds, and then they have another 6-6 kid and a 6-5 kid.
“Last year, I had six seniors and I had some girth. This year, I don’t have any girth. So we’ll have to play well fundamentally and take care of the ball.”
Williams, ranked No. 92 in his class by ESPN, has also been targeted by WVU, along with a slew of other schools.
“Athletically, they’re a typically city team that’s long, fast and strong,” Yester said. “They’re a lot speedier than we are, so we’ll have to mix it up on them defensively.”
MHS will get a first-hand look at Withrow at 9:30 tonight, as its plays powerhouse Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.). Yester hopes to find something during that game which will help the Mohigans stay undefeated at the showcase.
“We were fortunate before. Hopefully, we’ll be under the radar a little bit because Withrow is playing Arlington Country Day and they’re a little bit better than we are,” Yester said with a laugh. “Hopefully, they’ll overlook us a little bit and, hopefully, won’t be too mad after they play Arlington.”
“It’s great because no one expects us to win, but the last two years we’ve been in it we’ve won,” Colasante said. “So we’re looking to do the same thing this year.” photo

Chinonso Obokoh