Garrett Haines’ work pays off for Mohigans

MORGANTOWN — Garrett Haines spent at least an hour a day in the gym last summer putting up shot after shot at the Rowdy Center baskets at Morgantown High.

From inside, outside or midrange, there wasn’t a shot Haines didn’t put countless minutes into trying to improve his scoring opportunities headed into his senior year with the Mohigans, especially since inconsistent offense is something MHS has struggled with the last few seasons.

“We couldn’t score last year and I think we have the guys this year that are capable of scoring a lot more,” Haines said. “The team worked on shooting and I got a lot of shots up on my own and with my teammates all summer.”

Haines, a 6-foot-6 forward who can stretch the floor, wanted to add weight to help him become a more consistent shooter.

As a junior, he averaged just 5.5 points per game but ballooned that number just over 13 points per game this season. He scored 23 points in a loss Tuesday against Class AA No. 2 Fairmont Senior.

It’s a big leap that MHS (8-4) is happy Haines took.

“Garrett is one of the most improved players in the state,” coach Dave Tallman said. “He made a commitment in the offseason to becoming a great player. He put 20-plus pounds on in the weight room and worked on his entire game. I’m very proud of him.

“He could always shoot the ball. It was his strength and ability to be strong with the ball but that’s a thing of the past. He’s a very tough kid now.”

Haines thought he had to get better with his shot, especially close to the rim and from deep outside. Scoring midrange wasn’t necessarily an issue with his long frame and ability to drive, but adding the threat of shooting from beyond the 3-point line was something he wanted to add to his repertoire.

“I wanted to have a way better season than last year when my shots weren’t falling,” he said. “I knew I had to make shots and score more before the season started. I worked on my game a lot during AAU games and practiced what I needed to do. We needed a guy who could make 3s and I wanted to be that guy that makes open shots whenever the team needs me to.”

Through 12 games, Haines is shooting 40.2 percent from 3, a drastic improvement over last year.

But no matter how many shots he put up during practice or on his own time during the offseason, gaining confidence was what held Haines back the most. Shying away from taking the big shot not only hurt him in critical moments, but hurt his confidence enough to pass up open looks throughout the game.

“I would think about whether I was going to make it or miss it, but now I don’t think about it and I feel like it’s going in every time,” he said.

Haines and the Mohigans will host Class AAA No. 1 and undefeated Martinsburg at 6 p.m. Monday.

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