Adrian arrives in time for MHS
12 points down stretch lead to sectional crown

The Dominion Post

Morgantown High senior Nathan Adrian is a WVU men’s basketball scholarship recipient who averages 20.5 points and 13.5 rebounds a game — which means he’s played an awful lot of basketball in his lifetime.
But of all the hundreds, thousands even, of games and practices during his career, he will likely always remember the 10 minutes and 19 seconds he played Friday evening, at the MHS Rowdy Center.
“Those are some of my favorites,” he said afterward, grinning from ear to ear.
Adrian, who had been out with a broken foot since the first crosstown rivalry matchup with University, Jan. 26, entered Friday’s game in the middle of the third quarter, with his team losing, 23-18.
That’s when the star forward netted 12 points and made two timely, powerful blocks to lead the Mohigans to a 41-35 victory and the Class AAA Region I Section II crown.
To Adrian, who was projected to have a 6-8 week recovery period but returned nearly two weeks early, stepping onto the court again was “amazing.”
“I missed it,” he said. “I wanted to play so bad. I really didn’t even know what the score was when I went in. I just wanted to play so bad. And I went in and I played as hard as I could and as long as I could and got the job done.”
Early on, both teams struggled to get their shots to fall. MHS took a 6-1 lead with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter. However, UHS senior guard Curl Dixon, in visible pain with an injured shoulder, put in six of his eight points to lead the Hawks back into an 8-8 tie going into the second quarter.
UHS turned up the defensive pressure and had the Mohigans struggling to get the ball up the court against their full-court press. The teams traded leads until UHS sneaked ahead, 17-15, with just over four minutes left before the break. The Hawks held the ball for the remainder of the half, while MHS stayed back in a 3-2 zone until Travis Tomer tossed up a long 3 that missed at the buzzer.
After Tomer nailed a 3 and UHS stretched its lead to 23-18, MHS head coach Tom Yester called a timeout at 3:51 and Adrian entered the game. He sparked an 8-0 MHS run to a 26-23 lead.
“He’s a player,” Ye s t e r said. “He didn’t get that scholarship and those accolades just because he happened to grow. He got it because he learned how to play. He did a great job. He had a little rust, but he stepped up to the moment and did his thing.”
The Hawks fought back using their full-court press, to trail, 34-33, with 4:30 remaining. Ultimately, they missed some key shots and never regained control.
Adrian “is a good player, and I’m glad to see that he’s healthy and he’s back, but the things that happened were not about Nathan Adrian,” UHS head coach Paul Ingle said. “We took open shots and missed them, we had touches between the boxes (in the lane under to the basket) and didn’t finish, so with or without him, we had chances to win that game, and we just didn’t execute.”
Tomer and Tevin Dixon netted eight points apiece for the Hawks. Behind Adrian, MHS freshman Steven Solomon netted eight points.
“We played pretty sound defense and we rebounded the ball,” Yester said. “Last time, they just killed us on the boards. And we made a couple smart plays at the end when they put the pressure on.
“Nick (Colasante) and Steven handled the ball really well. And Shawn (Carden) was good around the bucket, C.J. (King) was good around the bucket, Thomas (Selby). All those guys came in and did their job and that’s what we ask them: Play with and for each other, and good things will happen.”
MHS and UHS had faced off three times this season. UHS won two double overtime games at MHS and the Mohigans defeated the Hawks, 62-41, at UHS. Both teams continue their seasons in must-win regional games Tuesday, to earn a trip to the state tournament, in Charleston.
MHS (18-6) will host a Region I final against Wheeling Park. University (16-8) will travel to play in the other regional final, against Parkersburg South.
Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m.
MHS defeated Wheeling Park, 96-68, on Dec. 27, but lost to the Patriots, 48-42, on Feb. 5. Adrian said he felt “fine” after his return and fans can expect him to play a full game Tuesday.
“We gave the game to them last time,” Yester said. “And that was early after Nate was gone. So hopefully we can play a little better this time and I think we will. We should be hungry and have a good crowd, but don’t overlook them.”
UHS has lost three close games to Parkersburg South — by eight points the first time and three points the last two times.
“We ’ve chosen the tougher road, but the kids were upbeat and determined to take care of business. So the final stake is not in us yet,” Ingle said. “Really, the whole season boils down to us performing well on Tuesday night. Our backs are against the wall, so it’s time for us to come out and take care of business.”
Tomer 2 3-5 8, C. Dixon 2 3-4 8, Cunningham 0 0-0 0, Lewis 1 0-0 2, Meadows 0 0-0 0, Leftridge 2 0-0 5, Shade 1 0-0 2, T. Dixon 3 0-0 8, Gutmann 1 0-0 2, Bodkin 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 6-9 35.
Marshall 1 1-2 3, Colasante 1 2-2 4, Johnson 0 1-2 1, Carden 2 0-0 4, King 1 0-0 2, Core 1 0-0 3, Solomon 3 0-0 8, Eby 1 0-0 2, Selby 1 0-0 2, Adrian 5 1-2 12. Totals 16 5-8 41.
University 8 9 9 9 — 35
Morgantown 8 7 13 13 — 41
3-point goals: University 5 (T. Dixon 2, Leftridge, Tomer, C. Dixon). Morgantown 4 (Solomon 2, Adrian Core).

Jason DeProspero /The Dominion Post
Morgantown players and fans rush the court to mob Nathan Adrian, who returned from a broken foot to spark the Mohigans past the University Hawks on Friday night.


Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post
University's Deion Cunningham (right) shoots a jumper over Morgantown's Shawn Carden in the second half.