— By Joe Smith
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are a lot of similarities between the Morgantown and University boys’ basketball teams.
Both appeared in the top five of this week’s first regular season AP Poll — the Hawks were ranked second, and the Mohigans were ranked fourth. Both started the week with two losses, none of which came against an in-state opponent.
As the two teams met Wednesday night, it was clear that both were among the upper echelon of Class AAA basketball this season. Where the two foes proved different was the amount of effort shown, and the amount of playmakers on the court — unfortunately for Morgantown, it lacked in both categories, as it fell 58-55 to the Hawks.
“Morgantown played a great game — it was the exact type of game that I thought it would be. I had no idea who was going to win — it was kind of an anxious day today,” UHS head coach Schmidle said. “I didn’t know how good Morgantown was or how good we were. It turns out, we’re both pretty good.”
The Hawks opened action firing on all cylinders, jumping out to an 18-6 first quarter lead behind a pair of Kaden Metheny 3-point baskets. Morgantown coach Dave Tallman pointed to his team’s efforts early in the game as a deciding factor.
“We can’t spot them; we came out flat, we weren’t aggressive, we did the same stuff we did last year. We weren’t ready to play, we weren’t fired up and we were scared to shoot the ball,” he said. “Then, we go into halftime and we have seven guys that want to score.”
The dynamic backcourt duo of Metheny — who tallied his 1,000th-career point in the first quarter — and K.J. McClurg combined for 39 points for the Hawks. In the end, the Mohigans struggled to find playmakers to match the pair’s offensive production.
“They’re the two best guards in the state, but they work at it. There’s no secret — I went over to a freshman game last year with a 7 p.m. tip and Kaden Metheny was still in the gym at 6:30 shooting jump shots,” Tallman said.
“Our guys don’t do that. We talk about deserving to win, that’s our motto, and those two deserve to make those shots. Until our guys decide it’s time to start working like that, this is going to continue to happen.”
Schmidle believes it’s his backcourt’s versatility that makes them such a threat — their ability to make multiple types of plays from different spots on the floor makes it tough to have a game plan and execute against them.
“Any time you have two all-state players in your backcourt, it’s a luxury. I don’t even know how to explain it. It makes you wonder what you did before they were there and what you’re going to do after them,” he said.
“I think Kaden and K.J. are a little bit more — they’re hard to defend because of their ability to shoot the ball or take the ball to the basket. If you can just shoot it or you just take it to the basket, you’re a little easier to defend. If you can do both, then good luck on defense.”
Metheny led the Hawks with 20 points, while McClurg scored 19 points. Cam Selders paced Morgantown with 19 points, with Nick Malone adding 10.