MORGANTOWN — The University boys are a team on the rise. The Hawks picked up their sixth win in a row Saturday afternoon, knocking off No. 5 Spring Mills 63-39 on Bakers Ridge.
“Our kids wanted that one,” UHS coach Joe Schmidle said after the game. “We felt like we kind of let one get away down at their place.”
When the teams played in Martinsburg earlier in the season, the Hawks came back from a 14-point deficit to take a lead in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell to the Cardinals 79-72. That was University’s last loss as the Hawks have rattled off six wins in a row since.
“I think we’ve grown up a lot since then,” Schmidle said. “I was really, really happy with how disciplined our kids played in the second half and how patient we were.
University (12-9) came out of the gates hot Saturday, hitting four times from three-point range for an early 12-4 lead in the first quarter. Center John Coleman got things started with a surprise trey as SM’s defense sagged off of him on the perimeter. Then Luke Hudson hit twice and James Fortney-Garbart added another.
In total, the Hawks shot 5 of 7 from range in the opening stanza as Coleman closed the quarter with another triple for a 19-11 lead.
Spring Mills (15-7) battled back in the second and cut UHS’s lead to just three, 21-18, partway through. That’s when University really clamped down, however, as the Hawks closed the first half on a 7-0 run to lead 28-18 at the break.
The most impressive part of Univeristy’s first half was that they build their lead without the services of dynamic point guard Rafael Barcinas, who spent a lot of Saturday’s game on the bench in foul trouble.
“James Fortney-Garbart is a great substitute point guard,” Schmidle explained. “It takes him out of his position, but as far as basketball IQ, controlling the flow of the game, finding open teammates, running the offense, bringing the ball up the floor, James can do all of those things.”
Fortney-Garbart was able to flash his own ball-handling and passing skills and scored nine of his game-high 13 points in the first half.
“James is one of the most underrated players in West Virginia,” Schmidle said. “The people that have played us know how good he is, people that haven’t played us don’t. I don’t think anybody really wants to play us right now, and that’s okay.”
University opened the third quarter with a 7-2 scoring run to push the lead to 15 in the early goings.
“We had that lead at halftime and I knew the first four minutes of that third quarter were going to dictate the rest of the game,” Schmidle said. “We made sure we got the looks we wanted and we converted. We made them chase us and I think they got tired.”
The Hawks closed the third quarter on another 7-0 run to lead 45-27 heading into the final frame. Spring Mills never got the run it needed and University closed out the last quarter to win 63-39.
UHS had six players score at least six points and four finish in double figures, led by Fortney-Garbart’s 13.
“The team’s just playing more together and more unselfish,” Schmidle said. “Nobody cares who scores. They trust each other so that when they give (the ball) up, they know there’s a good chance they’re going to get the ball back. Kids are stubborn, it probably took them 10 or 12 games to get them to that point…but now I think they’re liking the results.”
Demarcus Bandy scored all 12 of his points after halftime to match Hudson for second place on the team. Coleman finished with 10, Landon Cool had eight and Barcinas managed six in limited time.
DJ Boardley and Logan Bush led Spring Mills with nine points apiece.
University will play its final home game Tuesday against Musselman and will close the regular season with a game at Hurricane on Friday.
University 63, Spring Mills 39
SM 11 7 9 12 — 39
UHS 19 9 17 18 — 63
Spring Mills — Boardley 4 1-2 9; Robinson 0 0-2 0; Thomas 3 0-1 6; M. Anderson 1 1-2 3; Bush 3 2-2 9; X. Anderson 2 0-0 4; Eaton 1 0-0 2; Doumbouya 1 0-0 3.
University — Barcinas 2 1-2 6; Coleman 2 4-4 10; Bandy 5 0-0 12; Hudson 5 0-0 12; Fortney-Garbart 5 2-2 13; Cool 4 0-0 8; Ford 10-0 2.
3 Pt. Goals — Spring Mills 2 (Bush 1, Doumbouya 1). University 8 (Coleman 2, Bandy 2, Hudson 2, Barcinas 1, Fortney-Garbart 1).