— By Joe Smith
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — University High junior Kaden Metheny isn’t one to mince words. As such, his description of teammate K.J. McClurg following Friday’s nightcap of Day 1 action at the American Homes Holiday Classic Tournament was short and sweet.
“K.J. is one hell of a player,” Metheny said.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a coach, fan, or player that would disagree. McClurg lit up the scoreboard Friday, tallying 41 points to lead the Hawks to a 93-83 win over No. 5 Woodrow Wilson.
“Any time you beat Woodrow it’s a big win,” University coach Joe Schmidle said. “We’ve been fortunate to be on the right side of the matchup the past three seasons. They seem to bring out the best in us.”
The Hawks took the court at the Rowdy Center looking to make a statement. McClurg said he and his teammates thought they deserved a little bit more preseason recognition — and if people hadn’t taken notice yet, they likely will after Friday.
“We thought being ranked sixth was a little low for what we’ve accomplished and where we should be,” McClurg said. “At the end of the year, we want to be considered the best team in the state and we just came out here and played like it.”
The Flying Eagles posed the toughest challenge yet for the Hawks, converting an astounding 17 3-pointers on the evening and carrying a one-point lead into the break. Late in the third, they opened the lead to seven points, drawing a University timeout.
Out of the break, the duo of McClurg and Metheny proved too much for their opponent, disrupting the Woodrow Wilson backcourt and sparking a run that would end with a layup to take back the lead to end the third-quarter, putting the final nail in the coffin for Woodrow Wilson.
“They were hellbent on going out there and shutting Beckley down. We didn’t stop them, but we created some turnovers and got the momentum,” Schmidle said. “We went from down seven to up one, and as soon as we got that lead, it was over.”
Metheny added 31 points, giving the pair of junior guards 74 combined on the night. McClurg said that in order to capture the win, he knew he and Metheny needed to step up and put the ball in the net.
“They were scoring a lot, and we had to match them,” McClurg said. “[In] the first half, we didn’t play great on defense, so we had to come out and score with them.”