MORGANTOWN — University High owns a 21-4 record, having lost only twice to in-state teams this season, making the Hawks the No. 2 seed in this week’s Class AAA basketball state tournament.
Returning to Charleston will no doubt resurrect memories of how last year’s semifinal loss ended, especially for star point guard Kaden Metheny.
Trailing Martinsburg by a point, Metheny drove the length of the floor and scored what looked to be the go-ahead basket with 4 seconds remaining. But the score was wiped out by a controversial charge call when Metheny collided with Qualeke Bush beneath the rim.
University lost 48-45, with Martinsburg ending the game on a 9-0 run.
“That call has stuck with me ever since it happened, especially with the senior group that we had,” Metheny said. “I’ll never forget the memories I had with that senior group and the way they took me in. Winning the state championship with that group would’ve just capped it off, so getting knocked out of the tournament in that way was really tough.”
Now, Martinsburg is again at the forefront of the tournament, coming in as the No. 1 seed ahead of UHS. If there’s to be a rematch, it cannot occur until Saturday’s title game. The Bulldogs (25-0) are looking to cap the first undefeated season in Class AAA since Morgantown went 27-0 in 2015-16.
University will face No. 7 Musselman on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. in the state quarterfinals.
The Hawks have won 13 of their last 14 games.
Metheny certainly hasn’t allowed last year’s tough ending to weigh him down this season. The junior point guard has upped his scoring to 22.6 points per game, while averaging 5.6 assists, 3.6 steals and 3.5 rebounds.
“I knew that we had guys that could fill the spots that were leaving,” Metheny said. “Also, I’ve played with most of the guys since second and third grade, so we already had great chem- DEC.7istry and a connection that most players don’t.
“For me, I wanted to just improve my overall game — a lot of basketball players just get complacent and rely on their ability, but I definitely didn’t want that to happen with me and having guys like K.J. McClurg and Mike Maumbe always in the gym with me really helps. They have a great work ethic that really drives me to do more.”
But the journey to the first state title for the Hawks begins with the Applemen, whose guards Taralle Hayden and Cameron Williams can score from everywhere.
Getting past the first round isn’t good enough for the Hawks. They’ve reached the semifinals two years in a row but haven’t been able to get over the hump into the title game.
This time Metheny hopes that changes.
“We know what it feels like to come up short and we don’t want to feel that again,” he said. “So going into the tournament, we want to treat it as serious as possible and to win the entire thing.”
Every game of the boys’ state tournament will have a live audio stream at wvmetronews.com. Saturday’s championships will feature an HD video broadcast.