MetroNews staff photo
UHS's Kaden Metheny works the ball around Rance Blakney, of Morgantown, on Friday, in the sectional final.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No. 8 Morgantown is hoping the fourth time is the charm as they face top-seeded University High School Wednesday night in opening round action of the boys high school basketball tournament.

The two schools each enter Wednesday’s game red-hot. University (24-1) has won 14 straight since a Jan. 24 loss at Parkersburg South. Morgantown has won 10 of their last 11, their only loss a 58-55 defeat in sectional play against University.

“Morgantown closed the gap on University significantly since they played earlier in the season,” said Kyle Wiggs, WAJR Sports Director. “Morgantown is such a good defensive team that they’re going to be in any game, but they are a little bit better offensively.”

University won all three meetings, including two in January by scores of 65-49 and 47-41.

“Now, the question is whether they can hold University down and have the game played at their tempo,” Wiggs said. “If they can, they’ll be in the game.”

The most recent meeting in sectional play was the closest of the three meetings, with Morgantown struggling to hit critical shots at the free throw line during the second half.

“They had the sectional championship game played at their tempo,” Wiggs said. “They played at their tempo. They played more of a half-court game. University wasn’t able to get out and run as much as it would like.”

Wiggs said University prefers a much faster game, led by guards Kaden Metheny, Austin Forbes, Ethan Ridgeway, and a deep bench.

“That (sectional) game was played in the 50’s,” he said. “If the game’s played in the 50’s, Morgantown has a chance. If University scores 75 or 80 points, then it’s going to be a runaway.”

University has broken the 100-point barrier five times this season, scored at least 80 points in 12 games, averages nearly 81 points per game, and has won by an average margin of victory of more than 32 points in their 24 victories this season.

“Their only loss all season was against Parkersburg South, and they avenged that in the OVAC finals and blew Parkersburg South out in the fourth quarter,” Wiggs said. “University is a legitimate number one seed.”

The two schools have a storied athletic history and rivalry, but it wasn’t always possible for them to meet in the State Tournament. In fact, they were usually the obstacle in the other’s way towards clinching a berth.

“It’s definitely historic,” Wiggs said. “In a small world, it’s a piece of Monongalia County’s history.”

Now, it’s one indicator of one of the best AAA fields in state history, Wiggs said.

“You legitimately have a contender as the number eight seed in Morgantown,” he said. “They won the State Championship two years ago. It’s obviously a different team, but this is by far the best one versus eight matchup that I’ve seen, which tells you something that all the teams in between, two through seven, are contenders too.”

Tip-off is at 7:15 Wednesday night.

The game can be heard online at wajr.com, on the radio at 104.5-FM, AM-1440, or at wvmetronews.com.

You can find additional coverage of the entire tournament here.

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