Joe Smith, Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

MHS girls’ hoops rebounding from tough start

MORGANTOWN — The Morgantown girls’ basketball team has more pep in its step lately.
It hasn’t been an easy early-season stretch for the Mohigans, who drew five top 10 teams from the latest coach’s Coaches Association poll in their opening five contests, including returning Class A state runner-up St. Joe’s and a trio of returning state-semifinalists from Class AA and Class AAA (Frankfort, Parkersburg South, Wheeling Park).
Despite going 1-4 over that stretch, Morgantown managed to flip their momentum in just a week’s time with a pair of impressive wins — a 24-point dismantling of Brooke and a four-point victory over Martinsburg, a team which earned a trip the Class AAA state tournament last season, on their home court during last week’s American Homes Classic.
The key to getting the train back on track, according to coach Jason White, was an increase in effort from his players.
“I think our intensity has changed,” he said. “We dropped down to 1-4, but the kids didn’t drop their heads and they came into practice and worked hard and because of that they’re starting to reap the benefits of their hard work.
“We’re playing harder, especially on the defensive end, then we did before in those losses. We let our offensive inefficiency affect us on the defensive end of the floor. Because we’d have a tough night offensively, we let that bother us defensively. We didn’t move as well, we didn’t play as hard.”
Senior Sydni Clawges said the boost in intensity stems from the support each player provides for the rest of the unit. As the team develops a closer bond on the court, it becomes a more encouraging and confident environment to play in.
“We have had a hard time playing together with intensity, and tonight it picked up playing as a team,” she said after the Mohigans’ victory against Martinsburg. “Everyone picked each other up the whole time and were playing for the team, and that’s different.”
White cited carelessness with the ball and defensive movement as problem areas for the team, but believes that if they continue to show the additional intensity, they’ll be able to correct the problems with time.
“The main thing is we need the kids to keep coming to practice with a positive attitude and wanting to work hard,” he said.
Morgantown returns to action this weekend, as they host the Buffalo Wild Wings Holiday Classic, where they will square off with Class AA No. 5 Winfield on Friday and Chapmanville Saturday.
“I think the next big thing is Christmas break for these kids. They’ll get a couple days off for the holiday, and we’ll come back in and focus on playing a good Winfield team and trying to get a win,” White said.