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Mohigans win regional over rival Hawks, head back to state tournament with a three-peat in sight

MORGANTOWN — The two-time defending champions will have the opportunity to defend their crown.

The Morgantown boys’ basketball team is heading back to the state tournament to try and complete the three-peat thanks to a 71-49 win over cross-town rival University Thursday in a Class AAAA Region I co-final inside the Rowdie Center.

“It’s a cross-town rivalry, so we can just treat it as a usual game,” MHS point guard Sharron Young said. “Focusing on this game was most important because if we take care of business in this game, then we get to go down to Charleston.”

Morgantown players a coaches pose for a photo after defeating University on Thursday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

The Mohigans opened up a 10-2 lead to begin the game, but UHS battled back to make it 17-13 at the end of the first quarter.

MHS led 27-21 near the end of the second before closing the half on a 10-0 run to lead 37-21 at halftime.

“We started a run there in the second quarter when we cut it to (six) then we just had some stupid turnovers,” UHS coach Joe Schmidle said. “They finished the half on a 10-0 run and that was pretty much the ballgame right there.”

The Hawks hung within striking distance for much of the game but were never able to piece together a run to fully get back into it. MHS just kept slowly adding onto its lead until it finally ballooned to 20 points at the end of the third quarter, 57-37.

“Credit to (University), it’s a rivalry game and they don’t want to go home quiet and I thought it was just a good high school game,” MHS coach Dave Tallman said. “We’re happy to get back to Charleston.”

Morgantown’s Marty Johnson (21) drives to the net against the University on Thursday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

It was a bit of an off night for the Mohigans, who did not shoot the ball well from range throughout the game. Usual sharpshooters Izzy Everett and J Shrewsberry combined for just one three while Young only hit on two. 

“Tonight was the night,” Schmidle said. “If we would’ve played well and taken care of the ball I think we would’ve had a chance. They did not shoot well, at all. I thought if we shot the ball real well and they didn’t, we’d have a chance.”

All four of Morgantown’s three-pointers came in the first half as, seeing that shots weren’t falling, the Mohigans shifted to more of an inside game after halftime. 

“I told them at halftime that we needed to score in the paint,” Tallman said. “Brady (Savage) is a man-child in there and Jacob (King) is really stepping up for us. When the other guys aren’t paying well, those two guys have really stepped up and been consistent.”

King finished with a team-high 20 points while Savage scored 11. Nine of King’s 20 points came in the third quarter.

“Our shooters are usually good and they make those shots but some of the time when we’re not hitting, we’ve just got to get inside and make the easy lay-up,” King said.

University did not shoot well either with James Fortney-Garbart accounting for three of the team’s four triples. The Hawks also turned the ball over 19 times.

“A lot of those were not forced,” Schmidle said, “just poor decision-making on our part.”

University’s James Fortney-Garbart (44) protects the ball from Morgantown’s Marty Johnson (21) on Thursday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

Fortney-Garbart led UHS with 20 points in his final high school game. 

“We’re going to miss him,” Schmidle said of his senior point guard. “I thought he played a great game. He was our leader for this team the whole year. He ran our offense, he was our best defender and he did it all.”

Ethan Jackson was next with 12 and Glenn Brown scored 10.

Young scored 17 behind King’s 20 while Savage had 11 and Everett managed eight.

It was the final home game for Morgantown’s group of seniors — Young, King, Everett, Shrewsberry and Jaylon Hill — who have won 90 games in four years, including 47 straight wins at home.

“It’s been a great group and I don’t want to go there yet mentally that these guys are leaving because we’ve got them for, hopefully, three more games,” Tallman said.

Morgantown’s last loss at home came in the 2020-21 season to Robert C. Byrd.

“Four years go by pretty fast when you’re having fun,” Young said. “I’ve got to thank God for every moment. It’s been a true blessing.”

“It’s crazy, I was talking about it all day today,” King added. “It’s sad, it’s just sad.”

The Mohigans are the No. 2 seed in the Class AAAA state tournament bracket and will play No. 7 Wheeling Park next Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

“We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and focus on the present,” Young said. “We’ve got to lock in, listen to our coaches and do what we’re told.”

Morgantown 71, University 49
UHS 13 8 16 12 — 49
MHS 17 20 20 14 — 71
UNIVERSITY — Jackson 3 5-6 12; Coleman 3 1-1 7; Hudson 0 0-0 0; Ford 0 0-0 0; Fortney-Garbart 8 1-2 20; Brown 5 0-0 10; Lewis 0 0-0 0; Henderson 0 0-0 0; Kleeh 0 0-0 0; Karpinski 0 0-0 0; Byrer 0 0-0 0.
MORGANTOWN — Savage 5 1-4 11; Shrewsberry 0 0-0 0; King 8 3-3 20; Everett 1 5-6 8; Young 7 1-2 17; M. Johnson 1 0-0 2; Colistra 3 1-1 7; Frey 0 0-0 0; Hill 3 0-0 6; A. Johnson 0 0-0 0; Himes 0 0-0 0; Goins 0 0-0 0; Ridgeway 0 0-0 0; Kellogg 0 0-0 0.
3-Pt. Goals — University 4 (Fortney-Garbart 3, Jackson 1). Morgantown 4 (Young 2, King 1, Everett 1).