Joe Smith, Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

Morgantown boys’ basketball team shares strong, familial bond

MORGANTOWN — The Morgantown High boys’ basketball team has a thing for Chick-Fil-A.

“The other day after our scrimmage, I think the whole team was in there,” MHS head coach Dave Tallman said. “That wasn’t organized by the coaches. It was organized by the players.”

Of course, it’s not really about grilled nuggets or waffle fries — the Mohigans would have been just as happy eating at any restaurant, just as long as the team was together.

“Practice just ended at 12, and I guarantee they’re going to go eat lunch together. They’re a very tight-knit group,” Tallman said. “After practice on the weekends, they hang out together. They’re best friends.”

Senior guard Cam Selders attributes the bond the group has to the “little things,” such as team lunches, group texting and even just greeting fellow teammates during the school day.

“In the hallway, if someone is walking by, even if they’re on the freshman team, and I’m on varsity, you say what’s up to them. We communicate really well off the court, and that helps a lot,” Selders said.

“We talk about things we need to do on the court, but off the court, we become better friends, too. When you become better friends off the court, it builds that bond on the court.”

Headed by a six-man senior class, many of whom have played as a unit since entering high school, the focus on team chemistry has resulted in a dedicated squad with a familial bond.

“This team has been together not only in the summer, but all four years. I love my whole team. The couple football players we had, when they came back, it felt like they weren’t even gone,” MHS senior Preston Hartman said.

“This team has been working hard, and we’re a brotherhood.”

That is the aspect which Tallman is most impressed with. He calls it the strongest team bond he’s seen since his 2016 state championship squad.

“The chemistry and leadership is fantastic, and if that stays true and holds together throughout the entire year, this will be a special season,” he said.

Selders hopes that the chemistry will help younger, inexperienced players develop more confidence on the hardwood, a trait he felt the Mohigans lacked last season.

“This past offseason, we didn’t have much confidence, and we had some seniors that didn’t score that much,” Selders said. “I talked to the upcoming guys — the ones that didn’t get to play as much last year — and I told them don’t be scared.

“Go out there, play your normal game, shoot regular, and don’t be scared. If you’re scared, you’re going to look worse. If you’re confident, you’re going to make more shots.”

Making more shots will be the primary objective this season for Morgantown, which earned a 17-9 record and a trip to the Class AAA state tournament a season ago while averaging just 58.6 points per game — a statistic head coach Dave Tallman would like to change.

“We’re way more skilled this year,” he said. “We should be able to score more points than we did last season.”

The area of the game Morgantown isn’t worried about underperforming is on the defensive end of the court — the squad sacrificed just 44 points per game last winter, and while Tallman is focused on improving the offense as well, he’s not about to sacrifice the main component of his team.

“That’s been our staple. Last year our offense was horrible, and I think that should really improve, but we want the defense to stay the same,” he said. “We only gave up 44 points per game last year — that may be hard to match. But with our weapons, I think we have a recipe for success.”