The Dominion Post  

UHS boys’ hoops hold off Indians

Created on:   Sat, Feb 10, 2018   12:09 AM

Last modified:   Sat, Feb 10, 2018   12:09 AM

For The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Trudging out of the locker room, bleary-eyed University boys’ basketball coach Joe Schmidle could only shake his head.

“We did absolutely everything imaginable to lose that game,” he sighed, his voice hoarse from the long game. “No energy, poor execution on defense, no legs on lay-ups that we missed all night. I mean, three of nine from the line? That’s not us.”

Imagine how bad he would’ve felt had the second-ranked Hawks lost.

After UHS flew out to an early double-digit lead, the Hawks then had to hold on for dear life to narrowly defeat the Indians, 61-59, on Feb. 9.

UHS (16-1) started quickly, using its running game and efficient passing to post a 24-12 first quarter lead.

But, the Indians (12-5) took advantage of the Hawks’ poor shooting and uninspired defense to stay within touch. Bridgeport guard John Mazza drained a pair of long threes late in the half to shrink the advantage to just 34-27 at the break.

Sluggish again in the third quarter, the Hawks saw the Indians fight all the way back to tie at 41-all, with 3:29 left in the quarter. A Schmidle timeout could only produce a pair of offensive turnovers, and the Hawks remained out of synch until Austin Forbes nailed a clutch 3-pointer from the right corner just ahead of the buzzer to restore a 45-42 lead.

The final quarter featured a series of mini-runs from both teams, keeping the game tight as a drumhead. An early Kaden Metheny triple (one of his 5 bombs that gave him a game-high 17 points) and an Ethan Ridgeway lay-up quickly stretched the lead to nine, but BHS sharpshooter Blake Bowers sprinted off a screen and popped in a gorgeous rainbow three from the left elbow and later fed Jake Bowen for a fastbreak lay-in, and just like that, the lead was back down to 52-49 at the five minute mark.

Fouling to stop the clock, the Indians finally forced a turnover and covered to draw within two, but Forbes took a long outlet pass, hit the lay-up, and drew the foul as well.

And that’s when the Hawks’ normally reliable foul shooting touch deserted them completely. Forbes missed his, and BHS’s Bowen made both ends of his one-and-one to make the score 61-59 with less than 30 seconds remaining. UHS had three chances to put the game away, and three times they missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the normally deadly Ridgeway missed both of a two-shot opportunity. But the Indians missed twice as well, and twice UHS forward Storm Leftridge pulled down gritty rebounds. A desperation shot at the buzzer fell short, and the Hawks somehow survived with the win.

Just then, Indians coach Robey waved to Schmidle and wished him luck.

“You should’ve taken this one, Mike,” Schmidle said. “We got lucky. You were better than us tonight.”

Smiling, Robey responded the only way he could.

“Thanks, but I would’ve rather been worse and gotten the win.”

Ah, coaching. A brutal job, sometimes.

In a rare doubleheader of sorts, University hosts Wheeling Park twice next week, first on Tuesday, in the OVAC semifinals, then Thursday for a snow day make-up.