Morgantown rebounds
‘Good vibe’ leads boys out of funk
The Dominion Post
The Morgantown High boys’ basketball team carried a 10-1 record, was ranked No. 2 in the state and had just upset top-ranked Martinsburg at one point this season.
That was mid-January, right before senior Austin Agnew tore his ACL and WVU signee Nathan Adrian broke his foot, and MHS lost both its starting forwards in less than two weeks.
The Mohigans spiraled downward, losing four of their next eight games.
It was then that senior point guard Nick Colasante said, they hit a turning point.
“It was tough, but everyone came together and started giving a lot more effort than normal,” Colasante said. “We could tell we had a real good vibe going on in practice, our spirits definitely rose and that’s when we thought for sure we would be going where we wanted to go.”
The Mohigans (19-6) defeated University in a Region I Section II final and then beat Wheeling Park in a regional final — two of the teams they had lost to in that disappointing stretch — to punch their ticket to Charleston for the state tournament.
“The sectional game seemed bigger than the regional game,” MHS head coach Tom Yester said. “It’s really not, but psychologically, it’s your crosstown rival, you’ve lost to them twice, and University High is pretty good.”
MHS was trailing by five late in the third quarter, when Adrian checked in for the first time since his injury Jan. 26, nearly two weeks ahead of his projected 6-8 week time frame for a return. The previously dejected atmosphere in the MHS Rowdy Center was immediately electrified. Adrian sparked an 8-0 MHS run, scored 12 points in 11 minutes, and MHS won the game, 41-35.
“That definitely was a big boost,” Colasante said. “I think I was the most surprised person because I had no idea he was coming in. I was shocked. You could tell everyone’s attitude completely changed and it changes the game. That’s what he brings, he gives us more confidence when he’s on the floor.”
The sixth-ranked Mohigans are thrilled to have the services of Adrian, who averages 20.5 points and 13.5 rebounds a game, for their matchup with No. 3 South Charleston, at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in a state quarterfinal round game at the Charleston Civic Center. And they now see a positive aspect to those long weeks without their standout.
“Now that Nathan’s back, we have even more of an opportunity because other players have more experience and can help us,” Colasante said. “We had a couple guys we thought could contribute, but really didn’t get a chance, but the whole situation worked out allowing everyone to see that they can help out and the have helped out. That’s been huge for us this year.”
Sophomores C.J. King and Thomas Selby, junior Shawn Carden and senior Daniel Eby all saw increased playing time in the post, and junior Scott Core gained experience on the wing.
“There is certainly more depth than there was, more kids with good experience than there were,” Yester said. “If you think you are going to play two minutes or 10 or 15, there is a difference in how you approach it. The more minutes you play, the easier it is. You get more in the flow. If you are only coming in to play two minutes to give someone a break, you tend to just try not make any mistakes and you tend not to be aggressive.”
Yester was also pleased with the growth of freshman Steven Solomon, who he hopes will be ready to play again after spraining his ankle in the regional final.
“He didn’t play much varsity early on, but we let him get his feet wet and he’s evolved into a pretty good ball-handler,” Ye s t e r said. “He’s on a good learning curve for a freshman, and Colasante needs a break now and then if we play three games in three days. He’s going to have to be a piece of the puzzle.”
MHS also added some zone defenses to its repertoire, and though Yester said he still wants to rely on MHS’s go-to man-to-man style, that experience will be another weapon in Charleston.
“We did play a couple of zones fairly well,” he said. “To win, you have to adapt or make someone else adapt to you, and sometimes you have to do a little bit of both.”
Now, the revamped Mohigans are ready for their first shot in a state tournament game since 2011.
“The fact that we lost to some of those teams we shouldn’t have, we knew we were just making it tougher on ourselves than we needed to, but when it came down to it, we won the games we had to,” Colasante said. “Early on, it was tough, but from where we are now it seems like it was all worth it.”

Morgantown High’s Nathan Adrian goes in for a layup as Wheeling Park's Luke Saseen defends. Adrian returned ahead of schedule from an injury to give the Mohigans a huge boost.

Morgantown's Nick Colasante drives past Wheeling Park's Luke Saseen during their regional final game. The tough times MHS went through now seem “like it was all worth it,” he says.

Eric J. Tomlinson/The Dominion Post graphic


at Preston 55-40 W at Central Catholic 52-50 W Brooke 68-58 W vs. Washington 52-50 W at Martinsburg 39-55 L at Wheeling Park 96-68 W Parkersburg South 79-52 W at Brooke 59-52 W John Marshall 60-39 W at Parkersburg South 69-54 W Martinsburg 64-59 W Parkersburg 69-54 W University 71-76 L Preston 61-52 W vs. Jefferson 57-50 W vs. Woodrow Wilson 31-62 L Wheeling Park 42-48 L at University 62-41 W University 40-52 L vs. Indian Creek 56-43 W at Fairmont Senior 54-67 L at John Marshall 47-27 W John Marshall 73-34 W University 41-35 W Wheeling Park 67-51 W