CHARLESTON — Through two games at the West Virginia boys’ state basketball tournament, reigning Class AAAA champion Morgantown is allowing just 40 points per game.
Following a 64-39 win over Bridgeport in the quarterfinals, the Mohigans (25-2) allowed just 41 in a 66-41 win over Huntington in Thursday’s semifinal round.
“So far, so good,” MHS coach Dave Tallman said of his team’s defense in Charleston. “32 more minutes would be pretty sweet. It’s getting better and better. If we can put 32 more minutes together, we’ll be pretty happy.”
Morgantown’s impressive defense was on full display early Thursday, as the Mohigans jumped out to a 16-2 lead over the fast and athletic Highlanders (20-6).
“They came out and executed the gameplan to a T,” Tallman said. “Played excellent defense against a team that has really good athletes and a lot of quickness. You don’t guard those guys and limit them like we did unless you play good team defense.”
Huntington had just one player reach double-digit points as Mikey Johnson scored 17 but had little support in the boxscore.
“They jumped on us quick and we weren’t ready for it,” Huntington coach Ty Holmes said. “We were trying to get some timeouts to do some different things and they fought through it and went on a couple of runs and we had to try to fight back the whole game. It’s tough to fight back when they have a good lead like that.”
MHS led 23-12 after the first quarter and pushed it to 42-19 lead at halftime.
“They communicate well and they work good as a unit,” Holmes said of MHS. “It’s one thing when you’ve got good defenders, but when you can defend as a unit and you communicate and talk, it makes a big difference.”
Huntington never got within 20 points in the second half as Morgantown all but cruised into Saturday’s state championship. The Highlanders shot just 13 of 43 from the floor, 1 of 15 from three and turned the ball over 21 times.
Huntington standout Duane Harris did not make a field goal in the game, missing on all four attempts, and only scored four points, all on free throws. He was guarded primarily by the MHS duo of Sharron Young and Izzy Everett. Young is a star who was a key piece of last season’s title run, but Everett is only a sophomore and is just now getting his time in the spotlight.
“I didn’t pay at all really last year (in the state tournament), but everyone’s been telling me just to play my game,” Everett said. “I think we’re amazing defenders just to stay up on (Harris) and make him play our game.”
Everett cracked MHS’s starting lineup this season when Young went down with a wrist injury in January. While losing a star player is never good, Young’s absence gave Morgantown’s bench players like Everett, Jacob King, Drew Shrewsberry and Marty Johnson, opportunities to play more and develop, which is now paying dividends in March.
“It’s been huge,” Tallman said. “Izzy’s stepped up, Drew’s stepped up, Jacob King, who gets no credit, played point guard for us. With Marty, we have three point guards we can throw out there that are ready to go and have played in huge games.”
Now Young is fully healthy and back to his usual ways, scoring a game-high 25 points Thursday with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Senior Brody Davis is also stepping up when it matters most. He’s scored 20 points in both tournament games so far and added nine rebounds against the undersized Highlanders. He’s 14 for 25 shooting in the tournament and 5 for 11 from three-point range.
“We’re all happy about winning the semifinal, but we all know we have one more,” Davis said.
Morgantown advances to the Class AAAA state championship Saturday at 10 a.m., which will be a rematch from last year against Parkersburg South.
The Patriots (21-6) defeated Jefferson 87-66 in the earlier semifinal on Thursday. Morgantown won last year’s title game 56-53.
Morgantown 66, Huntington 41
HH 12 7 13 9 — 41
MHS 23 19 14 10 — 66
Huntington — Harris 0 4-6 4; Johnson 5 7-8 17; Motley 2 2-2 6; McNeely 2 0-0 4; Lochow 2 1-1 6; Tubbs 2 0-0 4.
Morgantown — Danser 2 0-0 4; Everett 2 0-0 5; Young 9 6-6 25; Davis 7 3-4 20; Kisner 2 2-5 6; Neal 1 2-3 4; King 1 0-0 2; Shrewsberry 0 0-1 0; Murray 0 0-1 0.
3 Pt. Goals — Huntington 1 (Lochow). Morgantown 5 (Davis 3, Everett 1, Young 1).