MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Less than one month ago, Morgantown’s girls basketball team had its way against Buckhannon-Upshur in a 68-29 victory.
The rematch came Tuesday night in Class AAA Region I, Section 2 action and hardly played out like the regular season meeting.
Still, behind a 19-point, 10-rebound performance from 6-foot-3 sophomore Kaitlyn Ammons and some strong defensive play, the Mohigans eliminated the Buccaneers, 54-40.
“As a coach you kind of know this game is coming,” Morgantown coach Jason White said. “It’s a team you beat handily in the regular season, and you know they’re at full strength now getting Alli (Robinson) back. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell the kids — in their mind that’s the same Buckhannon team they played a month ago.
“So mentally you try to prepare them for that, but you know they’re not going to know it until you get out there and get in the game. But our team overcame some adversity.”
The Mohigans will play in the sectional title game at No. 1 seed University on Thursday night.
Morgantown (14-9) faced a 9-6 deficit early following five straight points by B-U’s Brooklyn Maxwell, but the Mohigans ended the opening quarter on a 7-0 run to hold a four-point lead.
Robinson made a fallaway jumper early in the second quarter to cut her team’s deficit to 15-11, but the Mohigans scored 11 consecutive points to take a 15-point advantage. The surge began with a 3 from Alexiyah Hughes and was followed by a layup from Sydni Clawges.
After Ammons made 1-of-2 free throws, Kerrington Peasak connected on a trey and Clawges scored inside again to up the advantage to 26-11 with 2:20 to play in the opening half.
However, the Bucs showed what kind of contest this would turn into by answering with a 6-0 run that featured five points from Leigh Ann Bennett, before Ammons’ layup sent her team into halftime leading 28-17.
At the break, Morgantown was shooting better than 78 percent (11-of-14) from the field, but had 12 turnovers compared to the Bucs’ seven.
“We turned it over a lot, but we turned it over being aggressive. In the past against a zone we get real stale and want to stand around,” White said. “We turned it over attacking the lane and that’s why I think our field goal percentage was so high, because when we didn’t turn it over we were getting shots at the rim.”
Each team scored 10 points during the third quarter, although MHS built a lead as large as 36-20 on a Hughles layup, before Buckhannon-Upshur (13-10) closed the frame on a 7-2 run.
The Bucs started the fourth quarter playing perhaps their best basketball of the contest, scoring five straight points on Audrey Gaudet’s layup and a Maxwell 3 to pull to within 38-32.
Ammons answered with a jumper and her layup a short time later allowed the Mohigans to lead 43-34, but Bennett’s trey brought B-U back to within six.
Ammons and Robinson each had conventional three-point plays within the next minute, leaving Morgantown with a 47-40 lead at the 4:02 mark.
Although Ammons’ putback on what proved to be another three-point play with 1:35 remaining was the Mohigans’ lone field goal the rest of the way, they held B-U scoreless and made 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch to pull away.
“We knew we weren’t the same team that came up here earlier in the year,” B-U coach Rob Kittle said. “There were a lot of things going against us at that time, not to make any excuses, but we came out and fought as hard as we could tonight. Just came up a little bit short unfortunately.”
Morgantown finished 19-of-34 from the field for 56 percent shooting, but hurt its cause offensively with 21 turnovers.
Ammons made 8-of-11 field goal attempts to bolster her game-high point total, while Clawges added 10 points in the win.
Hughes had seven points and seven rebounds, helping the Mohigans win the battle of the boards, 35-24.
Bennett and Maxwell had 10 points apiece to lead B-U, while Robinson totaled nine points in the loss.
B-U made only 15 of 52 field-goal attempts for 29 percent shooting.
“Getting Alli back helped with our depth and we were able to press a little more, but we just didn’t convert a lot of the time when we needed to after we did turn them over,” Kittle said. “That was the difference.”