Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

To a T: Morgantown High girls’ basketball team taking mask rule seriously to help assure season is played

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While the Morgantown High boys’ basketball team decided to take its three-weeks summer workouts outside, the MHS girls’ hoops team wanted to play in the confines of the Rowdy Center.

The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission ruled any indoor workouts required masks to be worn by any involved due to COVID-19, and for Mohigans coach Jason White, there were no ifs, ands or buts about it — the rule needed to be followed to a T.

“Coach White has had no tolerance for even wearing them below the nose unless you’re six feet away from everyone in the gym,” rising senior Kaitlyn Ammons said.

Ammons, who will play Division I basketball at DePaul, is expected to lead the Mohigans following a major turnaround to end last season. Summer workouts were supposed to be a good time to help a group that returns everyone, but the mask rule was a difficult change for a high-contact, major-hustle sport like basketball.

Other indoor sports, such as volleyball and wrestling, are facing the same obstacles.

“It’s difficult enough before you start sweating, but then as soon as it’s wet, it’s hard to breathe and really uncomfortable,” Ammons said. “But our team has all agreed we don’t want to be the reason why we don’t have a season, so we don’t complain and just wear them.”

While the basketball season doesn’t begin until early December, Ammons and MHS have good reason to want this season to happen. There wasn’t a single senior on last season’s squad that upset No. 1 Wheeling Park in the co-Region I final to advance to the state tournament. Along with Ammons, major contributors Berit Johnson and Cat Wassick return for one more go-around as seniors.

A host of juniors and sophomore who have played important minutes are also back.

MHS won back-to-back-to-back titles from 2014-16, but last season was the first time it made the state tournament since the last championship, so the Mohigans hope to build on the momentum to return to the powerhouse they were five years ago.

The goal, though, is to prevent a slow start, something that has plagued MHS in recent years. Last season, it started 5-10 before winning nine of its final 11 games.

“We plan on working to be one of the best teams in AAA by the time of the tournament,” Ammons said. “We don’t want to have a slow start year again. I think our work ethic in the gym has really shown how much we are willing to work towards our potential as well. I know coach white and coach Goodwin are really excited and so are we.”

Ammons averaged just over 16 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season, both leading the team, on her way to a second team all-state selection. Wassick was second in points at 8.7 and in rebounds at 5.9, but led in assists, with 3.8.

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