The Dominion Post  

Morgantown High girls eliminate University, 63-32

Created on:   Tue, Feb 20, 2018   11:56 PM

Last modified:   Tue, Feb 20, 2018   11:56 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — As an official signaled for a foul, University sophomore forward Mallory Napolillo stormed to the bench in a fury. She had collected her fifth and final foul of the evening — she was finished for the game.

It was just one of many calls that turned the tide in the Feb. 20 WVSSAC Class AAA sectional semifinal between UHS and Morgantown. Foul trouble neutralized the Hawks’ post early, with sophomore forward Abbie Coen also fouling out, as MHS rolled to a 63-32 victory at the Rowdy Center.

“I liked our match-ups. It just didn’t work out the right way tonight,” UHS head coach David Price said. The Mohigans “were able to get the ball in the post, they did a nice job underneath and they got a lot of fouls on us that way. We’re just not that deep.”

The Hawks, characterized by their aggressive style of basketball, fell wayward as fouls were racked up, throwing them from their rhythm as the night wore on.

“We took advantage of being intelligent,” MHS head coach Jason White said. “When we got their post in foul trouble, we continued to go at them, and they had to make a decision on how aggressive they were going to play.”

The Mohigans spread the UHS defense thin with every possession, bringing their guards to the baseline and extending the Hawks to the corners of the MHS frontcourt. This opened up one-on-one match-ups in the post, where MHS used its size advantage to draw fouls and earn low-risk shot opportunities.

“We continued to put someone in the corner, and forced them to make a choice on whether they wanted to guard the corner or guard the post,” White said. “They chose the corner, and played behind our post, which left us one-on-one. We have good size in the post, and we wanted to attack that.

“I think the difference in the game was getting them in foul trouble, and we were able to do that because we fed the ball into the post.”

White was also ecstatic with his team’s defensive performance, which wore down the UHS offense as the game etched on, slowing the Hawks tremendously in the second half.

“Our press didn’t necessarily turn them over a lot in the backcourt, but we wore them down over the course of 32 minutes,” White said. “They were fatigued, their shots were short — if you look, we only gave up eight points in the second half. I’d like to think that was fatigue, their legs starting to go.”

Price felt that his team gave in to the MHS defense too easily, and noted a lack of ball movement on the offensive end as a pitfall for his squad.

“I hate that we sometimes let teams rush us a little bit, especially if the pressure isn’t great. If you’re not being pressured to do something, then why do it? Read the defense and do the appropriate things,” Price said. “I was looking for better ball movement out of our offensive sets, and maybe that would have helped our scoring on the other end.”

UHS also struggled with shooting the ball, tallying just 10 baskets on the evening.

“We have to make our shots,” Price said.

The loss brings the UHS season to an end, while Morgantown advanced to the sectional final, on Thursday. The Mohigans will travel to Buckhannon-Upshur for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Both sectional finalists will advance to the regional tournament, but only the winner will earn home-court advantage.

“It’s a sectional championship, and you want to go out there and bust your tail. Either way you’re in the regional, but you want to win and host that regional,” White said. “You want to try and put yourself in the best position to get to Charleston.”