CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Class AAA defending state champion Morgantown on Thursday controlled the tempo and methodically secured a spot in the boys basketball state tournament semifinals, beating No. 5 George Washington 56-45.
The No. 4 Mohigans (20-6) built a 10-point lead at the half and went 20 of 24 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
Torin Hanson led Morgantown with 24 points, including a 15 of 18 effort from the foul line.
Hanson, also a scoring threat from 3, took – and made – just one shot from beyond the arc on the day.
“I had three turnovers and two really early in the first quarter that gave them so momentum,” Hanson said. “So I didn’t want to force it anymore and just let the game come to me. I didn’t want to force any bad 3s or step-back jumpers. I just let it come to me. My teammates had my back. Whenever (George Washington) was fouling me (late), it’s just a free throw. I just stepped up and made them.”
Hanson hit 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and made 13 in-a-row.
“And Nicky (Solomon) was 3 of 4 (from the foul line) and Lamar (Haskins) 5 of 7,” said Morgantown coach Dave Tallman. “Torin (Hanson) stepped up big, 15 of 18 speaks for itself.”
Morgantown started the game on a 9-0 run and George Washington answered with a 7-0 run. An 8-0 run for the Mohigans in the second quarter gave Morgantown the 20-10 lead at the break.
“It felt good going into halftime up by 10,” Solomon said. “We had to keep our poise and not let up and let them come back, or do anything dumb and get out of our discipline.”
Continuing to control the pace, a pair of Hanson free throws with 1:56 to go in the game positioned Morgantown with a 43-33 lead.
“(George Washington) wants to get in the lane, drive it and score it,” Tallman said. “We scouted them like crazy and we know that they want to play with comfort, drive it and kick it to open shooters.
“What we tried to do was slow them up,” Tallman said. “We pressed them, but it was a slow-them up press. We forced them to work the ball to get shots. If we would have let them drive and do what they wanted, we weren’t going to win the game.”
The Mohigans held George Washington (19-7) to just 32 percent shooting and 1 of 13 from 3. The Patriots finished with 22 more shot attempts than the Mohigans overall.
“Credit to Coach Tallman, his staff and his kids,” said George Washington coach Rick Greene. “They were totally prepared and they played well. We just didn’t shoot the ball well, but they took advantage of that and they did shoot the ball well. I think we’re a better team than we showed today and we didn’t do some things well that we had done all year.”
Hanson led Morgantown with 24 points, while Solomon added 14 points for the Mohigans.
Haskins finished with nine points and six rebounds for the Mohigans, while Adam Hill played all 32 minutes and went 3 for 3 from the floor with seven points and seven rebounds – all of those points coming in critical moments.
“That was huge for us,” Tallman said. “What would happen in the past when Adam wasn’t getting the minutes that he wanted was people would try to take Nicky and Torin away.
“We’ve yet to find that third guy to attack,” Tallman continued. “Adam (Hill) had wide open lanes tonight and he made them pay. Even defensively we went in there and snatched some rebounds. He was that piece that we had been missing.”
George Washington was led by Justin Phillips and Tracy Conliffe who both scored 10 points apiece.
Morgantown will face No. 1 Capital on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
“(Capital) put on a show (Wednesday) and it was fun to watch,” Tallman said. “They’re going to want to play fast, fly and get rebounds. Our philosophy has been pretty simple – we have to guard, keep people in front of us and we have to hold them to one shot.”