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Lily Jordan leads MHS past rival University, back to state tournament

MORGANTOWN — An old adage in sports is that you need your top players to play their best in the biggest games. 

The Morgantown girls’ basketball team got that and more Wednesday as junior center Lily Jordan had maybe her finest game of the season as the Mohigans defeated rival University 49-29 in the Class AAAA Region I co-final to claim a spot in next week’s state tournament.

Jordan stopped just short of saying it was her best game of the season, only allowing that it was, mentally, one of her best games.

“I just came in with the right mindset from the beginning,” said Jordan, who scored a game-high 17 points. “When they went on runs and when it was close, I kept the same level of calmness. I just knew what my team needed and I knew that I had to do anything that I could.”

Jordan’s teammates and coach were quick to say otherwise, however.

“For sure, yes,” point guard Sofia Wassick said when asked if it was Jordan’s best game. “Lily’s a great shot-blocker and it’s hard to get in (the paint) when she’s in there. She’s really a key to our defense.”

“(It was her best game) on both sides of the floor tonight,” MHS coach Doug Goodwin added. “She did a great job of sealing and getting to the rim when she had the opportunity. We got the ball to her and we were very patient on offense in the second half, which I think really helped.”

Morgantown players and coaches pose for a photo after defeating University in the Regional Championship on Wednesday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

Aside from what Jordan did offensively, 17 points and a team-best four assists, she keyed an MHS 2-3 zone defense that held the Hawks to just 10-of-45 shooting on the night.

“We came out a little timid, we weren’t hitting shots and then it just carried over,” UHS coach Nick Lusk said. “I think we just let the moment get to us a little bit.”

University (16-8) made the first basket of the night, but Morgantown (20-5) scored 11 of the next 13 points to lead 11-4 after the first quarter.

Morgantown’s 2-3 zone gave the Hawks fits all night, it allowed the Mohigans to put pressure on University’s outside shooters (the Hawks were just 5-of-24 from deep) while Jordan was left inside to challenge anyone driving for a layup. Jordan blocked two shots and affected many more.

“We were able to close out on shooters, we kept them fairly well contained, didn’t let them get by and kept everything in front of us, which helped us out tremendously,” Goodwin said. “It came from watching a lot of film. Where they were kind of struggling with things and where we thought we could really keep them in front and help ourselves out tonight.”

University hit four three-pointers in the second quarter and only trailed 19-15 at halftime. The Hawks were only down four, but missing so many shots early made them feel like they were playing worse than they actually were.

“We told them at halftime we were only down four and that was probably the worst half of basketball we’ve played all year,” Lusk said. “I think we beat ourselves a little bit, but (Morgantown does) that to you. They’re a good team. They’re long and we’re not very long so that zone affects us a little bit.”

While University played better after halftime, Morgantown was able to keep pace and never allowed a UHS run of more than four points all night. MHS led by six, 30-24, entering the fourth quarter.

“I think this game, compared to other games, we went into halftime with a little bit of a lead and we expanded on it,” said Wassick, who finished with eight points, five rebounds and three steals. “In some other games, we’ve come out slow in the third quarter and that’s when they’d start to come back.”

In the final frame was where Morgantown’s experience as last year’s state runners-up started to show. The Mohigans made frequent trips to the foul line and sank 11 foul shots in the frame, ultimately outscoring their hosts 19-5 to close out the win.

“This is nothing new for us. We’ve been in this situation before, we’ve been in tough games,” Jordan said. “We knew that we’ve done this before, we knew that we were capable of doing it again and I think we kept that same level of calmness and it showed.”

“We definitely have a lot of experience in games like these,” Wassick added. “You just have to stay in control and you have to control your emotions. That’s one way you can really get through these games.”

Behind Jordan’s 17, Lindsay Bechtel scored 12 for MHS and Wassick had eight. Morgantown won the rebounding battle 29-22, led by six each from Bechtel, Jordan and Revaya Sweeney and five from Wassick and Kate Hawkins.

Junior standout Ella Simpson led University with 15 points, followed by senior Emily Sharkey with five. Lyla Byers led the Hawks with six boards while Sharkey had two assists and three steals.

University’s excellent season comes to a disappointing close while Morgantown advances to next week’s state tournament.

The Mohigans will be the No. 2 seed in Class AAAA and their first match in the Charleston Civic Center will be against No. 7 Princeton on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

After finishing as runners-up last season, the Mohigans are eager to try and bring home a trophy this year.

“We definitely want it,” Jordan said. “We have a taste of the tournament, we have a taste of a state championship game and that taste is still in our mouth. We want it bad, we know that we’re going to have to work to get there. It’s what we’ve prepared for all season.”

Morgantown 49, University 29

MHS 11 8 11 19 — 49

UHS 4 11 9 5 — 29

Morgantown — Wassick 3 2-4 8; Henkins 1 0-0 3; Bechtel 4 3-3 11; Hawkins 1 3-4 5; Jordan 7 3-5 17; Sweeney 1 2-2 5.

University — Sharkey 2 0-0 5; Gibson 0 0-0 0; Boateng 0 0-0 0; Simpson 5 4-4 15; Stemple 1 0-0 3; Weaver 0 0-0 0; Maisel 1 0-0 3; Byers 1 0-0 3.

3 Pt. Goals — Morgantown 2 (Henkins 1, Sweeney 1). University 5 (Sharkey 1, Simpson 1, Stemple 1, Maisel 1, Byers 1).

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