Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

Wheeling Park wins Class AAAA state championship over Morgantown

CHARLESTON — The Morgantown High girls’ basketball team fell to Wheeling Park 65-51 in the Class AAAA state championship on Saturday afternoon in Charleston.

The Mohigans came five points short of completing a second-straight comeback after erasing a 13-point halftime deficit against George Washington in the semifinals.

The Patriots shot 50% from the field (25 of 50) as a team in the game including 14 for 22 in the second half. WP junior Alexis Bordas scored 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting and was joined by senior Natalie Daugherty who finished with 19 points (7 of 10) including three triples.

The Mohigans were paced by freshman Kayli Kellogg who scored 22 points going 7 for 11 from the floor and making all four of her three-point attempts.

Kellogg and senior Sofia Wassick were both named to the Class AAAA all-tournament team. Bordas was named Class AAAA tournament MVP.

“Congratulations to Wheeling Park, they played a heck of a game today and made some big shots when they needed,” MHS head coach Doug Goodwin said. “We tried to make a little comeback but they did well to shut the door on us in the third and fourth quarters. I’m really proud of our girls in this game for never giving up. I don’t think a lot of people expected us to be here but this group was tough and found a way. Hats off to (WP coach) Ryan Young and their program.”

The Wheeling Park girls’ basketball team celebrates after winning the Class AAAA state title over Morgantown Saturday. (Teran Malone/WVMetroNews)

MHS opened the game with an early lead 5-2 midway through the first quarter as both teams struggled to score initially. 

The Patriots responded well though, and ended the half on an 11-2 run to take the lead after one quarter 13-7.

WP threatened an extended lead the entire second quarter but MHS slammed the door on any opportunity. Eventually, the Patriots did go ahead by double-figures 29-19 when Daugherty hit the second of her two threes in the half with 90 seconds until the break.

Once again, Kellogg stepped up for the Mohigans and went on a personal 9-0 run to end the second quarter by nailing three unanswered triples from long range that pulled her team within one point at the break 29-28.

“The lead started to get away from us a little so I knew I needed to try and make a difference,” Kellogg said of her late first-half run. “Our offense wasn’t generating like we needed it to and my teammates set some great screens to get me open looks, I just had to knock them down at that point.”

WP didn’t allow Kellogg to attempt a three in the second half and only surrendered two field goals to the freshman sensation.

“They played some great defense in the second half and were up on me early,” Kellogg said. “We tried to run some sets to get open shots but they worked hard and didn’t let us.”

Two lead changes opened the third quarter but a three-pointer by WP junior Lala Woods at the 6:03 mark put the Patriots ahead by five 37-32 and they wouldn’t allow MHS to trim the deficit closer than multiple possessions for the remainder of the game. 

MHS was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter as the Park lead grew to 14 with 4:22 left to go in the game. The Mohigans would only get as close as 10 with 90 seconds left in the game as the Patriots dribbled the clock down to zero to win their first state championship since 1999.

“As always, we have so much respect for Morgantown they’re an awesome program,” Young said. “Someone always has to come out on the short end and recently in the past, that’s been us. This group has some experience and I think that was a difference today. Natalie answered the bell for us after not scoring a lot in the semifinals. I told her we needed her today to score and she did that.”

The Mohigans finish their season at 18-9 and will bid farewell to seniors Lily Jordan, Sofia Wassick, Paige Smith and Emma Howell. This was the third straight state title game for Wassick as a member of the team, including last season’s championship, and she and Jordan each earned first-team all-state honors for Class AAAA in 2023.

“I’ve played for a lot of teams while at Morgantown High, and it’s nothing but a family here,” Wassick said. “No one cares for you the way that these people do and I couldn’t have asked for a better four years of basketball. Kayli stepped up for us this year and it was great to have a freshman step up like she did and do all that she can do.”

“I think this senior group shows tenacity and coachability to get to this point this season and over the past four seasons,” Goodwin said of his players that will be moving on. “It is more difficult to get here than you realize and I know we’ve been here a lot, but it’s hard. This group this season did a tremendous job of buying into what we wanted to do. We had to make some adjustments three-quarters of the way through the season and for us to end playing on Championship Saturday is something to be proud of.”

Wheeling Park 65, Morgantown 51
WP 13 16 17 19 – 65
MHS 7 21 13 10 – 51
WHEELING PARK — Bordas 8 4-4 22; Daugherty 7 2-3 19; Huffman 4 0-0 8; Woods 3 1-2 8; Heller 2 1-2 5; Delk 1 1-1 3. 
MORGANTOWN — Kellogg 7 4-4 22; Wassick 4 3-8 12; Jones 2 0-0 4; Smith 2 0-0 5; Hatcher 2 0-2 4; Paulsen 2 0-0 4. 
3-Pt. Goals — Wheeling Park 6 (Daugherty 3, Bordas 2, Woods 1). Morgantown 6 (Kellogg 4, Wassick 1, Smith 1).

Class AAA

Nitro 47, Lewis County 28

The Wildcats and Minutemaids set the tone to kickoff Championship Saturday in Charleston with a classic Class AAA grind-it-out battle of two evenly-matched clubs with Nitro coming out on top 47-39 over Lewis County.

A defensive war saw the halftime score knotted at 15 as both offenses only managed five made field goals in the first half of play.

Nitro’s Natalie Smith willed her team to the title in the second half by scoring 15 of her game-leading 17 points in the final 16 minutes. The Class AAA tournament MVP scored all six of her field goals in the second half to lead her team to the championship.

Lewis County took a two-point lead on a triple by Ella Pinkney with 5:08 to play in the game but from that point Nitro went on a 14-4 run over the remainder of the contest and sealed the deal late with free throws. The Minutemaids went 2 for 10 from the floor during that time.

Class AA

Wyoming East 46, Williamstown 42

It was another defensive slugfest in the opening half of the Class AA state title game as the Yellowjackets held a slim lead at halftime 19-18 before Wyoming East won 46-42.

Williamstown held its lead despite shooting 6 for 25 from the field in the first half thanks in part to converting 7 of 8 attempts at the free throw line and holding a 19 to 9 advantage on the boards. Wyoming East shot 50% (8/16) as a team in the first half but Cadee Blackburn was held to just three points on two attempts.

A 10-2 run over the first five minutes of the third quarter saw Williamstown jump out to a 29-20 lead but the Lady Warriors responded well and ended the frame outscoring the Yellowjackets 11-5 over the final 3:04 to cut the lead to one possession 34-31.

Neither team scored until two minutes into the fourth quarter as Williamstown extended the lead to seven with buckets on consecutive possessions.

However, Wyoming East would prove why they are the defending state champions from 2023 and the number one seed with an incredible effort in the fourth. The Lady Warriors finished the game on a 15-4 that spanned the final 5:27 of the game.

WE junior Cadee Blackburn scored 14 of her game-leading 17 points in the second half to inspire her team to their second-straight state championship.

Class A

Cameron 50, Gilmer County 43

The Cameron Lady Dragons captured their third-straight Class A girls’ state basketball title with a 50-43 victory over Gilmer County on Saturday in Charleston.

Three Dragons scored in double-figures with senior guard Kenzie Clutter leading the way with a team-high 16 points, adding five rebounds and three assists. She was joined by senior Ashlynn Van Tassell who finished with a double-double of 14 points and 19 rebounds. She was also named the Class A tournament MVP. 

The Titans tied the game at 14 on a jumper by Allie Ellyson at the 6:56 mark of the second quarter but wouldn’t score another point for the rest of the half as Cameron went on a 15-0 run that lifted them to a 29-14 lead at the break.

Gilmer fought back in the third quarter with a furious rally that cut the lead to four points 39-35. The Titans outscored the Dragons 21-10 in the frame and shot 4 for 5 from beyond the arc.

Allie Ellyson brought Gilmer within one possession with a jumper to begin the fourth quarter that cut the Cameron lead to 39-37 but the Dragons held tough and converted free throws down the stretch to capture their third consecutive Class A state championship.