Morgantown struggles defensively, loses to unbeaten Martinsburg

MORGANTOWN — It had been a decade since the Martinsburg boys’ basketball team won at Morgantown High.

It just so happens the Bulldogs finished that 2009 season by winning the state championship.

During a high-profile showdown Monday night, No. 1 Martinsburg looked like an elite team again by dominating the No. 6 Mohigans 73-52.

Martinsburg (14-0) got 19 points each from forward Qualeke Bush and guard Telryn Villa. The Bulldogs’ 6-foot-6 center Josephus Bokey added 11 points for a team that has shown all the necessary intangibles.

“This group has been playing good defense, rebounding and hustling since Day 1,” coach Dave Rogers said. “Some nights, you’re not going to shoot the ball well, but that’s what’s going to pull you through. This team has really good chemistry.”

Monday wasn’t one of those nights where the Bulldogs struggled to score. 

Easy baskets helped Martinsburg leap out to a big lead as Morgantown’s Dave Tallman called two timeouts in the first five minutes to lay into his team.

Tallman didn’t think he’d have to motivate his team after the Mohicans (8-5) loss by 15 points in their last game Jan. 15 against Class AA Fairmont Senior.

“When you play a great team like Martinsburg, who’s No. 1 in the state, and you don’t come out with effort, it’s going to be a really long night,” Tallman said. “I wish we would stop spotting people 15 points in the first quarter. Our seniors gotta dig deeper, coaches gotta dig deeper— find what’s inside and see if there’s a fire in there and see if we can turn this thing around.”

Defensive breakdowns weren’t the only thing that hurt the Mohigans. They made only 8-of-19 free throws, something that has been a struggle all season.

With six weeks to go until the start of sectional play, Tallman will exhaust all options to get things fixed, whether or not those options already exist on the varsity roster.

“I have to find eight guys — that’s all it’s going to take — I’ve got to find eight guys that can score and defend,” Tallman said. “I think we’ve got them somewhere, whether it’s off the freshman team or the JV team or the varsity team, I’m not sure, but by the end of February, we have to find them.”

Garrett Haines scored 14 points and Cam Selders had 12 for Morgantown, who will play at University at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Martinsburg, the only remaining unbeaten Class AAA team, visits Washington on Saturday.

“This team just plays so well together — they like each other, they get along well and they look for the open man,” Rogers said. “They don’t try to force it when somebody else is available. We’ve got some nice shooters outside and inside, and we’ve got a pretty nice bench. This group is really coming together.”

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