MHS girls march to title
Masterful Michael scores 27
Associated Press
FOR MORE on Morgantown High’s championship, Page 1-C.
CHARLESTON — Stephanie Michael scored 15 points of her 27 points in the final four minutes to lift No. 3 Morgantown to a 59-55 upset win against top-seeded Huntington for the girls’ Class AAA basketball championship Saturday.
Morgantown (22-4) won its second title in three years. This one came unexpectedly because Huntington (23-3) had been ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll all season.
Huntington shot 72 percent (13-of-18) from the floor in the second half but was outscored, 14-6, from the free-throw line after halftime and committed 24 turnovers in being held to its second-lowest point total of the season.
Morgantown wasn’t expected to be a serious threat for the title this year with the departures of 2006 state player of the year Keri Pryor and veterans Amanda Peck and Brittany Whiting. But it made 20 steals and continuously found a way around Huntington’s zone defense.
Michael’s fifth 3-pointer of the game, with 3:36 left, broke a 44-44 tie and Morgantown led for good.
Huntington’s Whitney Bays made four free throws 12 seconds apart to cut the MHS lead to 55-53 with 23 seconds remaining. Michael made seven free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Neither team shot well in the first half, and Morgantown scored nine points off turnovers and led, 24-20, at halftime.
The Mohigans extended the lead to 33-26 on a Tiaa Ferrebee 3-pointer with 2:31 left in the third.
Huntington got a 3-pointer from Laquita Wilburn, and baskets by Bays and Nicole Eubank to tie the score at 42 with 4:41 to play.

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post Morgantown High’s Stephanie Michael (facing) and Brooke Andrews embrace after winning the Class AAA championship Saturday.

MHS champs again
BY TODD MURRAY The Dominion Post
CHARLESTON — Morgantown High girls basketball coach Allan Collins stood before his players on the first day of practice this past fall and made a statement many would have deemed outrageous.
“I really believe we can be state champions,” Collins said.
State champions?
With the talent drain the Mohigans suffered after making two trips to the Class AAA championship game, a state title seemed out of the question, but Collins came to believe this team was destined.
MHS realized its destiny Saturday night. Sophomore Stephanie Michael scored 15 of her gamehigh 27 points in the fourth quarter and the third-seeded Mohigans upset No. 1 Huntington High, 59-55, at the Charleston Civic Center.
The victory gave MHS (22-4) its second title in three years and Collins the fifth state championship of his illustrious coaching career.
“It’s special for a lot of reasons,” Collins said. “It’s special because of this group of kids who are so coachable and have worked so hard. We came down here and I don’t think anybody expected this, but we did.”
The Mohigans never lost faith. Not when they trailed city-rival University High by 19 points in the sectional. Not when they trailed sixth-seeded Martinsburg by an eye-popping score of 18-4 after the first quarter. Not when they continually fell behind Parkersburg South in the semifinals.
“It’s just a tribute to the character of the kids,” Collins said. “They believed in themselves. They stick with what we want to do. They’re a very coachable group. They just keep hanging in there, fighting and clawing. We talk about measured by heart. They’re small in stature, but they’re standing tall this evening.”
MHS couldn’t have hoisted the championship trophy without the efforts of Michael, who scored 19 points in the Mohigans’ 67-63 overtime victory over No. 2 Parkersburg South on Friday night.
Michael put on a free throwshooting clinic Saturday night, sinking 12-of-14 from the line. Michael, an 88 percent foul shooter, converted nine consecutive free throws during the fourth quarter to help MHS hold off Huntington.
“Stephanie had a couple of really good games,” Collins said. “She’s a streaky shooter, but she’s money in the bank at the foul line. There’s nobody who works harder on her game or deserves this more than she does.”
Michael often displays little outward emotion while she’s on the court, but fans couldn’t help but notice she broke into a wide grin after senior teammate Tiaa Ferrebee spoke to her before she stepped to the foul line for two free throws with the Mohigans leading, 55-53, with 19.6 seconds to play.
What did Ferrebee say to Michael?
“I don’t think I can say,” Michael said, smiling again. “She just said something funny so I wouldn’t be nervous.”
Ferrebee’s tactic worked. Michael made both free throws. She hit another free throw with 8.7 seconds remaining, and the Mohigans had their coveted state title.
Huntington coach Lonnie Lucas cringed every time his players sent Michael to the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“We gave her 12 at the line,” Lucas said. “We put her there.”
Michael, who still has two years of eligibility remaining, is already beginning to take her place among some of the finest players Collins has coached.
After Michael’s impressive performance Saturday night, Collins uttered her name in the same sentence with Julie Wheeler, a standout performer for the Mohigans in the early 1990s who played collegiately at Providence.
“Not since Julie Wheeler in 1992-93 have we had a gym rat quite like Stephanie Michael,” Collins said. “She lifts weights. She conditions. She’s done that throughout the season.
“That shows when you’re able to step up late in the game. Not only is it the mental part of the game, but you better have some legs with you and have some physical strength. She had all of those things and was able to knock down the big foul shots.”
Michael had plenty of help Saturday. Ferrebee finished her high school career with 10 points, three assists and three steals. Cynthia Fullard scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and grabbed six rebounds to go along with five steals.
Sophomore Brooke Andrews turned in another solid game at center, scoring eight points and battling Huntington’s freshman sensation Whitney Bays, who finished with a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds.

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post Tiaa Ferrarbee, right, strips the ball away from Huntington’s Thea Cooper during the first half.