CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No. 6 Morgantown lost three games against No. 1 Parkersburg South this season, but the fourth meeting made up for it.
The Mohigans won the Class AAA state title 46-39 Saturday night, dethroning the defending champs and snapping the Patriots’ 30-game win streak.
“I think familiarity breeds confidence, and the more we played them the more confident we got,” said first-year Morgantown coach Jason White. “The first game they beat us by 16, but we sat in the locker room after the game and said, ‘If that’s the No. 1 team in the state and we didn’t play well and lost by 16, we’ve got a chance at this thing.”’
While Morgantown (18-8) celebrated its first championship since 2007, South (25-1) pondered what might have been had star guard Keya Bartlett not gone down in the first quarter.
Bartlett played only four minutes before colliding head-to-head with Morgantown’s Maria Williams during a loose ball scramble. Williams was helped up within a few moments, but Bartlett lay on the floor with blood streaming from her head as trainers and coaches attended. The junior left the game to a standing ovation from the Civic Center crowd. She returned from the locker room in the second half only to watch from the bench.
“We knocked down some big shots early,” Parkersburg South coach Scott Stephens said. “I thought the turning point in the game was when Bartlett got hurt. You take 17 points out of the lineup and someone who can handle the ball, you’re going to miss her.”
Stephens said after the game Bartlett will be fine. She suffered a cut on her head that bled profusely.
Williams also left the game with a concussion and a cut over her eye.
“I thought Maria Williams diving on the floor for that loose ball, and getting that concussion and getting cut open was what set the tone for us,” White said. “From that point on I thought our defense was pretty good.”
The Patriots led 10-5 at the point of the injury and 17-9 after the quarter, but could have used Bartlett’s experience down the stretch.
The Mohigans limited South to just 11 points and 20-percent shooting in the second half.
“We thought if we could keep it close in the fourth quarter that we would have a chance, and that’s all we wanted tonight,” White said.
Morgantown was led by Olivia Seggie’s 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and Brie Giuliani’s 10 points.
“We went into halftime saying we were going to win the game for Maria,” Seggie said. “After she got hurt we got hurt our mindset was, this was for Maria this isn’t any longer for any of us.”
The Mohigans have had this goal on their mind since their first team meeting, when the team bonded together and said, “We’re going to play on March 15.”
The Patriots finished shooting 33 percent from the field, including 4-of-16 from 3.
“We weren’t shooting the ball well, and we weren’t finishing in the post,” Stephens said. “It was just good defense on Morgantown’s part.”
Taryn McCutcheon did her best to fill Bartlett’s void, scoring 16 points, including three 3s. She also had the job of guarding Seggie, which was an entertaining battle all night.
“You always have respect for someone you can compete with,” McCutcheon said. “She’s just such a good player. I feel like she’s a lot like me playing wise and you can relate to that.”
The two will be teamed up on the same AAU team this summer and McCutcheon will enjoy Seggie being on the same team instead of being the enemy.
“I’m really thankful to be playing with her honestly, because it’s a hard job to guard and to play against her,” she said.
Katelyn Byrd worked through foul trouble to finish with seven points and five rebounds, while Carlie Wilson added four points and 10 rebounds.
“We took out two starters and that hurt us,” Byrd said. “I just had to keep my head in the game so whenever I would return we would be at full force.