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Morgantown keeps distance in defensive battle against Greenbrier East to advance to semifinals

CHARLESTON — The Morgantown girls’ basketball team earned a spot in the Class AAAA semifinals of the 2024 WVSSAC state basketball tournament behind a strong defensive effort on Tuesday morning in Charleston. 

The Mohigans defeated the Greenbrier East Spartans 47-31 to move on to play in the semifinals on Friday for a spot in the state championship.

MHS freshman Kayli Kellogg led all scorers with 21 points, adding five rebounds and three assists. Senior Paige Smith contributed a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“I thought our girls did a fantastic job defensively today,” MHS head coach Doug Goodwin said. “Only allowing 10 points in the first half was big for us. I thought we hustled hard for loose balls and rebounds today and you can’t say enough what the girls did on the floor on defense.”

The game opened with the score knotted at 5-5 midway through the first quarter but MHS ended on a 9-1 run courtesy of Sofia Wassick and Kellogg. The Mohigans also held a 13-3 advantage on the boards early on.

The scoring run bled into the second quarter as the Mohigans smothered the Spartans defensively. GE wouldn’t score another point until a pair of free throws came from Hannah Fuller at the 5:12 mark, but the run had already extended a lead to double figures for MHS.

“We are used to scoring a lot of points and they make it difficult to do that,” GE coach Jim Justice said. “They are a lot stronger than us and pushed us around and made it tough for us to get our offense in a rhythm.”

The Spartans made only two field goals in the first half and committed eight turnovers while the Mohigans only gave the ball away three times, helping them to a 25-10 lead at the break.

“I thought we were patient with our ball movement in the first half, too,” Goodwin said. “We weren’t getting many shots to go down but we were finding them. Being able to generate extra shots is good for us. We talked at halftime and knew they would make runs on us and wouldn’t stop shooting the ball.”

Goodwin’s assumption was correct, as the Spartans began the third quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to single digits, 25-16. Smith answered for MHS with two free throws and a triple by Kellogg and the Mohigans wouldn’t allow GE to get within 10 points for the rest of the game.

“You have to have the survive-and-advance mentality and that comes with hustling for loose balls and rebounds,” Smith said.

“Defense has to be first for us,” MHS junior Sadaya Jones said. “We like to create offense from our defense so getting those stops is huge. We take a lot of pride on that side of the ball.”

Despite allowing 17 points in the third quarter, MHS only yielded four to the Spartans for the final eight minutes to put the game away and advance to the Class AAAA semifinals on Friday.

Morgantown 47, Greenbrier East 31
GE 6 4 17 4 – 31
MHS 14 11 14 8 – 47
MORGANTOWN — Wassick 1 0-2 2; Jones 3 1-4 7; Kellogg 8 3-5 21; Smith 3 3-6 10; Hatcher 2 0-0 4; Howell 0 1-2 1; Paulsen 1 0-0 2. 
GREENBRIER EAST — Workman 4 1-2 9; Stewart 3 4-4 11; Waller 2 1-2 6; McClure 0 2-8 2; Fuller 0 3-4 3.
3-Pt. Goals — Morgantown 3 (Kellogg 2, Smith 1). Greenbrier East 2 (Stewart 1, Waller 1).

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