CHARLESTON — If there were any lingering doubts about who the best basketball team in West Virginia was this season, they were silenced Saturday morning when Morgantown High won its second-straight Class AAAA state championship by winning a thrilling back-and-forth game against Parkersburg South, 65-58.
“It’s really, really hard to repeat,” MHS coach Dave Tallman said. “It’s been an incredible ride and we’re so humble. We don’t take it for granted, we’re just so humble and really, really appreciative.”
The Mohigans (26-2) were No. 1 in the W.Va. AP Poll all season long, the top seed in the state tournament and successfully defended their 2022 state title with Saturday’s repeat win over the Patriots (21-7).
“It was a battle,” Tallman said. “I have all the respect in the world for Parkersburg South, for Coach (Mike) Fallon and the job that he does.”
Following an even first few minutes of the game, MHS went on the first of many runs in the contest, 11-0, to jump ahead 17-7 in the first quarter. Parkersburg South immediately responded with an 18-2 run of their own that flipped momentum and had the Patriots ahead 25-19.
“(Morgantown) went on a run at the beginning of the game,” PSHS coach Mike Fallon said. “They went up 17-7 and we could have rolled over then and we fought back and took the lead.”
South’s lead grew as large as nine, 33-24, on a three-pointer by Aiden Blake.
Just as the Patriots had done minutes earlier, the Mohigans were able to snatch momentum and score three quick baskets just ahead of halftime to only trail 33-31 at the break. The final shot was the second of senior Brody Davis’s four treys in the contest.
“I think the turning point was in the second quarter, we had a seven or nine-point lead and we felt that we should have been up by 15 at the half cause we had some possessions we should have scored on,” Fallon said. “That was a huge part, the last several minutes of that second quarter.”
It was an uncharacteristic first half for Morgantown, with 10 turnovers and 10 personal fouls. Junior standout Sharron Young took it upon himself to rally the troops and was gathering the Mohigans together in a huddle during nearly every stoppage in the game.
“There were definitely times when we were probably not playing as a team and we were losing our minds a little bit,” Young said. “I told them that we’ve just got to fight through it, stick together and battle until the end.”
MHS crashed out of the break and continued what would eventually be an 18-2 run of their own to go up 42-35.
“At halftime, we made some adjustments,” Tallman said. “I think getting the ball in (Young’s) hands and in (Davis’s) hands did a great job.”
Anyone who had watched the game up until that point knew what was coming next as the Patriots jumped right back into the lead with an eight-point run that put them up 43-42.
A 9-3 Morgantown run was answered by a 9-2 PSHS run and the teams were deadlocked at 55 with two minutes to play.
Davis hit a three-pointer to go up 58-55 but PSHS’s Cyrus Traugh came down the floor and answered right away with one of his own to knot things up again.
MHS poked the ball away from South at midcourt on the next possession and Morgantown senior Cam Danser was able to grab it on a fast break and finish with a dunk that would ultimately end up as the go-ahead basket of the game.
“With the adrenaline, the crowd, I knew that was the exclamation point,” Danser said.
Davis, Danser and sophomore Izzy Everett were able to make free throws down the stretch as MHS scored the final seven points of the game to win 65-58.
“Every single day in practice we do situational free throws,” Davis said. “We all just have the mindset that if we get on the free throw line, we’re going to make the free throws and win the game.”
“Any situation we were in, we found a way to come back from,” Fallon said. “At the end, we just kind of ran out of time.”
Davis, who had a fabulous tournament, finished with a game-high 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. He averaged a tournament-high 19.3 points over three games in Charleston.
“Brody stepped up big,” Tallman said. “He was unbelievable down here.”
Young, who could have been the frontrunner for player of the year if not for a month-long injury, ended an assist shy of recording a triple-double, scoring 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists with five steals and two blocks.
“I told Brody pregame that nobody’s talked about him because Sharron’s a player of the year candidate,” Tallman said. “But he should be right there too. If they’re not both first-team all-state, it’ll be a travesty.
Unheralded throughout the tournament was MHS senior Cam Danser, who sacrificed his own offensive production to focus on guarding the opponent’s best player.
“My goal this whole week was just to play defense,” Danser, who scored six points said. “I knew these three guys (Young, Izzy Everett and Davis) would take care of the offensive side and I was just trying to do my part on this team.”
Sophomore Izzy Everett scored 14 points for MHS while senior big man Garrison Kisner had nine.
Despite winning two state championships in a row and appearing in three straight title games, Tallman made sure not to take any of it for granted.
“It’s really hard to win, we may never get here again, I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to count our blessings. We do things the right way. One of the biggest reasons we’ve done this is because of my staff. The dynamic’s perfect, it’s just perfect.”
Traugh led PSHS with 16 points, supported by Blake with 13 and Nathan Ploter with 12.
Young, Davis, Everett, Traught, PSHA’s Austin Reeves were named to the all-tournament team along with Jefferson’s Will Shively and Jamari Jenkins and Huntington’s Mikey Johnson.
The boys’ state title is already Morgantown High’s fourth state championship of the 2022-23 school year. Already state champs are the girls’ cross-country team, girls’ soccer team and the girls’ basketball team.
“The (athletic) program that we have is just a winning program,” Davis said. “If you’re at any other school, Morgantown is the place to be. The community that we have built there is unbelievable.”
Morgantown 65, Parkersburg South 58
PSHS 12 21 10 15 — 58
MHS 17 14 17 17 — 65
PSHS — Reeves 2 2-2 6; Traugh 6 3-5 16; Smith 2 1-2 7; Plotner 5 1-2 12; Blake 5 0-0 13; Joy 1 0-0 2; Silvas 1 0-0 2.
Morgantown — Danser 2 2-2 6; Everett 5 1-2 14; Young 7 1-2 17; Davis 6 2-2 18; Kisner 3 3-4 9; Neal 0 1-2 1.
3 Pt. Goals — Parkersburg South 7 (Blake 3, Smith 2, Traugh 1, Plotner 1). Morgantown 9 (Davis 4, Everett 3, Young 2).