Local Sports, Sports

Morgantown girls defeat University, 51-31, to secure spot in Class AAAA state tournament

Coach Jason White and the Morgantown girls basketball team (20-3) will have a shot at returning to glory as state champions next week when they return to the Capitol City for the Class AAAA girls state basketball tournament. after defeating the University Hawks (9-11) on Tuesday night inside the Rowdie Center.

The game began as expected, with both sides showing a slight hint of nerves as we remained scoreless for the first 90 seconds. The Mohigans only senior, Kerrington Peasak, then opened the scoring with the first of MHS’ 10 triples. UHS struggled against the swift defensive pressure that was thrown at it from the start, turning the ball over multiple times before even attempting a shot.

“I thought the first quarter our defense was outstanding,” said coach White. “We got a five second call to start the game, we got several of five seconds on inbounds plays. I thought we focused well.”

Ella Simpson eventually converted two free throws to give the Hawks their first points, but would only double that in the entire quarter as they trailed 10-4 going into the break. UHS struggles to find open shots in the opening period.

“I just thought they dictated the play,” UHS head coach Nick Lusk said. “They were more physical then us and set a tempo and we just couldn’t keep up with it. They have good length and good size.”

Pace began to slow to open the second, with MHS possessing the ball for almost a full minute. Emily Sharkey would give UHS a quick two points off of a turnover, but MHS’ Revaya Sweeney answered with a three on the other end. Sweeney came off the bench with back-to-back 3s in the second.

At 18-11, MHS leading, the game was at the fingertips of the Hawks and although down by 10 at half 23-13, the game could’ve have been much worse as MHS missed many open looks.

“Our defense is really what won the game, our offense wasn’t that pretty.” White said of his teams defensive effort.

Despite not being that “pretty”, MHS still hit 10 triples for the second game in a row. Something White attributes to his team moving the ball well.

The second half seemed like deja vu for everyone in the building. As once again, UHS opened scoring and MHS answered with a bucket of its own.

A pair of threes for the Mohigans, followed by a nice pass from Sophia Wassick to Lily Jordan for an old-fashioned three-point play would then extend the lead to 37-19. Emily Sharkey would again hit from deep twice in a row to bring UHS back within 15. She finished with a game-high 14 points.

The athleticism and length of MHS would deem too much for the Hawks in the end as they would win the regional championship and return to Charleston to play for a state title.

With this being the last season as the head coach for White, he is sure to remember not only what is accomplished this season, but all the seasons he has been on the sidelines at MHS.

“There was a little extra pressure on my shoulders tonight,” White said of his final game inside Morgantown High School. “I got in here around 4:30 and I sat down on that last seat on the bench and just looked up at the banners at thought about all the kids that have come through. And you get a little emotional thinking that this is the last time you’ll get to do it in this gym.”

Although it’s his last in the MHS gym, it won’t be his last in the sidelines for the Mohigans as they advance to the state quarterfinals as the No. 2 seed in the bracket. They will face the No. 7 in the bracket Spring Mills on Thursday, March 10 at 1:00 P.M. at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Morgantown (20-3)

Sofia Wassick 5 1-1 12 Mia Henkins 9 1-2 7 Linsday Bechtel 5 0-1 6 Revaya Sweeney 4 0-0 6 Kate Hawkins 4 0-1 6 Lily Jordan 7 2-3 6 Sadaya Jones 6 1-6 5 Karrington Peasak 2 0-0 3

University (9-11)

Emily Sharkey 7 3-4 14 Ella Simpson 6 3-4 9 Ashlyn Weaver 3 1-1 5 8 0-0 3

MORGANTOWN 10 13 14 14 – 51

UNIVERSITY 4 9 9 9 – 31

Three-pointers: Morgantown 10 (Henkins 2, Bechtel 2, Sweeney 2, Hawkins 2, Wassick 1, Peasak 1); University 4 (Sharkey 3, Gibson 1)

TWEET – @ahhh_griff