The Dominion Post  

Morgantown High girls seek return to state tourney

Created on:   Thu, Nov 23, 2017   10:41 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Nov 23, 2017   10:41 PM

For The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Compared to the three seasons before it, last year for the Morgantown High girls’ basketball team was a bit of a disappointment.

Trying to string together four straight state championships — something no Class AAA team has done in the state since the girls’ tournament started, 40 years ago — the Mohigans failed to qualify for a return trip to Charleston.

This season, that’s exactly where the bar has been set for MHS.

“You have to get in to win,” MHS head coach Jason White said. “The first step to winning that state championship is getting into the state tournament. To do that, we have to battle our way through a very tough sectional and regional. Our section will be as good as any in the state.”

The Mohigans found that out the hard way a year ago, when their run to the state capital was essentially derailed by a
45-40 loss to Buckhannon-Upshur in the sectional championship game.

The Buccaneers then advanced all the way to the state title game, falling to Huntington, 72-54.

White is hoping the team’s talent, on top of its work ethic, will be enough to get MHS back to state.

“Skill-wise, I think we have a lot of talent,” White said. “We’ve adopted the motto ‘Out-work yesterday.’ We need to put last year behind us. If we continue to work hard in practice and continue to get better together, we’re going to give ourselves a chance in the end.”

“Together” is the key word for this year’s team. Behind seniors Aleena McDaniel, Molly Miller and Aliyssa Neal, White says the team’s chemistry is much improved. The depth on MHS’s roster should provide some balance for the Mohigans as well.

“Looking back on last year’s group, it was a hard-working group that just never really came together,” White said. “I think these seniors have done a really good job of recognizing the importance of team chemistry.

“For once, we’re a really balanced team. We truly have both guards and ‘bigs’ that can score the basketball. On any given night, any given player can step up and be the difference.”

White admits at this point in the year — one week to the start of the regular season — things are still a work in progress for his squad. The Mohigans will have ample opportunity to work out the kinks once the season gets under way.

“We can go out and schedule the kinds of teams that are going to challenge us and make us better,” White said. “We’re going to travel around the state, and we’re going to play some of the best competition we can find.

“We want to put our kids in tough situations. Hopefully, come postseason time, we’ll be prepared for what we’ll face.”

The wait for that challenge to present itself will not be a long one. MHS opens its season with a pair of games at the Frank Hines Memorial Classic, on Dec. 1 and 2, in Fairmont.

MHS will take on Wheeling Central on Friday, then Fairmont Senior on Saturday.

The Polar Bears claimed the Class AA state title last season, after finishing runners-up each of the last two years.