Mohigans’ boys stun No. 1
Johnson sparks off bench; Adrian strong all-around
The Dominion Post
Morgantown High head coach Tom Yester predicted it last June — Mark Johnson would be the Mohigans’ X-factor.
Saturday night, the senior guard was just that as his spark off the bench helped No. 5 Morgantown knock off undefeated and No. 1- ranked Martinsburg, 64-59.
“I like that. I’m not a big starter guy,” Johnson said. “I don’t like all the mumbo-jumbo, but I like to come in off the bench and help the team out a little bit, give us a scoring threat on the bench.”
Johnson boosted the Mohigans (10-1) back from what looked like an early blowout, and then Nathan Adrian and Dean Marshall took over down the stretch, and a packed Rowdy Center student section stormed the court after the victory.
“I think they are ranked 39 in the country,” Johnson said. “They are a good team, a great team, and we just had ’em on the road and we had all the crowd for us and we kept hitting shots, and it was a great feeling.
“I’ve never beaten Martinsburg before, so that was a big win for me. But everybody pitched in and we had a heck of a game. We knew we had to come out and play, and it’s always big beating the No. 1 team. Always.”
Martinsburg roared to a 7-0 lead that stretched to 16-5 as Morgantown struggled to break the Bulldogs’ press, handing the visitors four baskets off turnovers. Yester called two timeouts near the two-minute mark in the first quarter, but the Mohigans responded with yet another turnover.
But this time the Bulldogs didn’t strike, and someone else did. Johnson found his favorite spot in the left corner and drilled two quick 3s with less than 50 seconds left in the quarter, and that potential blowout became just a 16-11 Martinsburg lead.
“I was just open, so I just took a chance and went with it,” Johnson said. “I was hittin’ em pretty good in warm-ups, so I was feeling it a little bit, so I just kept shooting them and they went in, and it gave us a spark. It gave the crowd a little bit to cheer about.”
Between Johnson’s treys, MHS forward Austin Agnew fell and limped off the court. He remained on the bench with ice on his knee for the duration of the game and left on crutches after the game. Yester said he would likely see a doctor Monday.
Johnson stayed hot in the second quarter with five more quick points, on his way to 15 with four 3s on the night.
“You can’t put a number on that. Either we make those plays or we get our butts beat. Thank goodness he made some plays,” Yester said. “But you know, Mark likes the big games, and Mark doesn’t get too caught up in any hype, he just comes to play and plays hard. He’s a great kid and he’s been a little up and down, and tonight he was up, and it was a good night to be up.”
The Mohigans knotted the halftime score at 31, and the teams traded leads four times from there. The last time the teams met — at Martinsburg, in December — the Bulldogs won, 55-39.
This time, Dean Marshall (18 points) and Adrian powered the Mohigans to victory in the fourth quarter.
Morgantown led, 59-57, with 28 seconds remaining. Johnson hit a free throw, Adrian tossed an assist to Marshall and took a charge, and Marshall hit two more free throws. The Mohigans let Martinsburg’s Elijah Freeman shoot an open layup at the buzzer before they celebrated.
Adrian passed the 1,000-point mark and led all scorers with 23 to go with his 13 rebounds. With WVU assistant coach Ron Everhart in attendance to watch Adrian and Martinsburg forward Donte’ Grantham, Adrian played like the WVU signee he is, leading MHS in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks, with all of the biggest ones coming in the fourth quarter.
“Nathan looked pretty good, he looked pretty big time. He imposed his will a little bit, and he wasn’t playing against a slouch. Mr. Grantham is a heck of a player,” Yester said. “He wasn’t going to be denied. You could tell.”
MHS hosts Parkersburg at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Grantham 5 6-9 17, Lewis 2 0-0 5, Robinson 4 2-2 12, Jones 1 0-0 2, Cole 4 1-1 11, Hairston 0 0-0 0, Long 1 0-0 4, Freeman 4 0-0 8. Totals 21 9-12 59.
Adrian 9 4-7 23, Agnew 0 0-0 0, Marshall 6 5-9 18, Colasante 3 0-0 8, Eby 0 0-0 0, Johnson 5 1-2 15, Carden 0 0-0 0, Core 0 0-0 0, Selby 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 10-18 64.
Martinsburg 16 15 16 12 — 59
Morgantown 11 20 14 19 — 64
3-point goals: Martinsburg 6 (Robinson 2, Cole 2, Lewis, Grantham). Morgantown 8 (Johnson 4, Colasante 2, Marshall, Adrian).