Joe Smith, Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

Lexi Hughes does it all to send Mohigans past Preston

KINGWOOD, W. Va.  — At 5-foot-5, senior Lexi Hughes isn’t the most physically imposing player on the Morgantown roster.
But when she’s on the court, her presence demands attention.
Hughes is a jack-of-all-trades. She can do a bit of everything. She put her versatility on display Wednesday, recording 12 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, as the Mohigans downed Preston 55-29.
“If you look, every game after Senior Night, she’s been our leading or our second-leading scorer,” MHS coach Jason White said. “She’s been aggressive, she’s taking open shots and she’s shooting the ball fantastic.”
Whether it was pulling down tough boards against taller defenders, dishing quick passes across the lane, or finding the groove with her deadly mid-range jumper, Hughes consistently put herself in position to make plays and control the game for the Mohigans (13-9).
“I feel like it starts with my team. If everybody is in the right place, it gets me to be where I’m supposed to be,” Hughes said. “It gets me the steals that I get, and it helps me space out the floor, look at my girls, and find whose open.”
Hughes’ progression over the course of the season is most impressive to White and his coaching staff, as she has continued to add to and develop her game in new ways each time she takes the floor.
According to White, her improvement has added yet another weapon that allows the Mohigans to stretch the floor away from the rim and expose mismatches with their lengthy line-up.
“She’s the ultimate testament to continuing to get better and improve throughout the season,” White said. “Coming into this year, she’s worked her tail off.”
Hughes credits her development to learning to trust herself and have faith in her play.
“I think it finally just kicked in that I knew what to do and I know how to play,” she said. “I never really had that confidence, but I feel like my coaches have let me have that confidence this year, and they put the ball in my hands.”

Preston grapples with offensive inconsistency
Preston head coach Brian Miller felt as if he drew up every play in his repertoire Wednesday. His only problem was getting his team to run one of them.
“We ran nothing on offense the whole night. I called three or four timeouts and was drawing up, do this, do that, and we ran nothing,” he said. “It turns into a one-on-one match, and we were just standing around watching. They’re a good defensive team, and you can’t do that against them.”
The Knights converted just eight shots from the field, tallied just seven assists, and shot 55 percent from the foul line.
The medicore performance highlighted the team’s struggles with offensive consistency, which has been the biggest thorn in their side this season.
“We get frustrated quickly; maybe it’s a mental thing. I think we know they’re good and it gets to us,” Miller said. “When you get opportunities, you have to make them. They ain’t going to give them to you the whole night. You have to capitalize on them, and we didn’t do that.”