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Morgantown rolls over Weir in OVAC semifinal

PASSING — Weir High’s Dakota Nutter looks to pass against Morgantown during an OVAC Class 5A semifinal on Tuesday. -Contributed

MORGANTOWN — The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A tournament boys basketball semifinal between homestanding Morgantown and Weir High was — from the opening tip to the final buzzer, from offense to defense, from in the paint to beyond the arc — a decided mismatch. No. 2 MHS sprinted out to a 25-point first-quarter lead and rolled to a comfortable 88-24 victory.

The sharp-shooting Mohigans (15-2) made a Red Rider team (10-7) look quite a bit less than ordinary throughout the night. A perfect indication of the game that was to follow occurred in the first few minutes. Three consecutive pressure-induced Weir turnovers led to a conventional 3-point play and a dunk from Xavier Pryor that sandwiched a smoothly-stroked triple from Alex Rudy. That lightning-quick 8-0 lead just as quickly ballooned to 22-2 by the two-minute mark of the quarter, and the rout was officially on in full force for Morgantown.

Rudy continued to bury his jumpers from downtown, canning two more in the second quarter on his way to a game-high 17 points. But, the real star of the game — as it has been all season — was the Mohigans’ ball-hawking, in-your-face man defense, which limited Weir to single digits in all four quarters on the night. Add to that a fine shooting night (MHS made more 3s (14) than the Red Riders’ 10 total field goals), and the lead jumped to 71-18 after three.

Luke Bechtel shot confidently all game, scoring 14. Antonio Rollo hit for 11, and Pryor finished with 10 to pace the balanced Mohigans, 11 of whom scored on the night.

So often in games like this, teams can slip into a less intense, sloppy brand of basketball. For coach Dave Tallman’s Mohigans, it doesn’t seem to matter what quarter, what opponent, what score or even the personnel on the floor: Morgantown has one way of playing the game.

“I think it starts in practice,” senior floor general and defensive stopper Mac McMillen said. “Coach expects and makes sure that we go hard against each other every day, and we just carry it over into games. We want to play a tough, physical game right from the opening tip and kind of establish how the whole pace of the game is going to go. It’s our style, and we like it.”

Pryor agreed and pointed out an additional advantage that MHS has over just about every team they’ve seen this season.

“We’re very deep, deepest in the state,” he said. “And, there’s no drop off when the second five come in, plus even a couple more guys. So, that allows us to go super hard 100 percent of the time on offense and especially on defense because we know our teammates have our backs, and they’re gonna come in and be just as tough to play against. It’s a big part of our success.”

And, with the OVAC championship game on Saturday comes another big reason why the Mohigans play every possession of every game at full tilt intensity.

They’ll face No. 1 University, and they’re not happy about that skinny number next to the Hawks’ ranking.

“We really want that No. 1 seed,” McMillan said. “We think that first round bye in the state tournament is something to shoot for. Plus, it’s UHS. They’re a really good team, and it will be the rubber match, so we’re looking forward to it very much. Those are the games that are the most fun.”

“It will be close late, because it always is between us,” Pryor said. “And, when it’s close between two good, evenly-matched teams, I think it will come down to heart and who wants it more. And, if we stick to our game and stay together, I feel good about our chances.”

The Mohigans travel to Ohio University Eastern on noon Saturday for the OVAC championship against University.

Morgantown 88, Weir High 24

Weir High 2-8-8-6 — 24

Morgantown 27-25-19-17 — 88

WEIR (10-7): Spencer 2 1-3 5; Gillette 0 1-2 1; Mellmar 1 0-0 3; Cross 1 1-2 3; Curtis 1 0-0 2; Mikula 1 0-0 2; Reitter 3 0-0 6; Jackson 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 10, 3-7: 24.

MORGANTOWN (15-2): Goins 1 0-0 2; Bechtel 4 3-3 14; Gage 2 0-0 5; McMillan 2 0-0 6; Pryor 4 1-1 10; Rudy 6 2-2 17; Rollo 3 3-3 11; Poffenberger 4 0-0 8; Borom 3 0-0 7; Washington 1 1-2 3; Smith 2 0-0 5. TOTALS: 32, 10-11: 88.

3-POINT GOALS: Weir 1 (Mellmar); Morgantown 14 (Bechtel 3, Rudy 3, Rollo 2, McMillan 2, Gage, Pryor, Borom, Smith).

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