Joe Smith, Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

Morgantown receives lesson in close loss to Capital

CHARLESTON — The most challenging thing about basketball sometimes is accepting the tough losses. You can’t change the result, of course, but you can’t ignore what led to the struggles in the first place.

Morgantown High bowed out of the Class AAA state tournament following a close opening-round loss to Capital on Thursday, but junior Alex Rudy knew there was something to take from the experience.

“We can’t take it for granted. The toughest team wins, and when you come down here you have to work as hard as you can,” he said. “I feel like this was an eye-opener to a lot of the young guys. You have to fight until the very last minute and just play basketball.”

It’s a lesson that Morgantown coach Dave Tallman hopes all of his underclassmen — who filled nine of the 15 slots on the roster this year — will take with them in the offseason. One of his favorite byproducts of reaching the state tournament is the opportunity it presents to his younger athletes.

“It’s always good to get the young guys down to the state tournament because it always gives them a chance to see what its like,” he said.

“When you’re down here and you experience it and you see it — I’ve been to every state tournament in my life, but all of our guys don’t get that chance. When they get down here and taste it for the first time, it makes them want to get back as much as they can.”

The departing senior class may be the best example of such a lesson. They were freshmen during the 2015-16 season when the Mohigans captured the Class AAA state title, and have returned each season since to the state tournament.

The influence of that senior class lays yet another foundation for the Morgantown underclassmen to build upon, according to Rudy. He said they provided perfect examples of leadership and responsibility for the rest of the team.

“The seniors were there in Charleston all four years in a row. They were tough, and they were always in the gym,” he said. “They would always help us find rides when we couldn’t. They’re really good kids, and they helped us a lot both outside and inside of basketball.”