Morgantown completes 13-point 2nd half to top George Washington in state semifinal

CHARLESTON — The Morgantown Mohigans earned their right to defend their 2023 Class AAAA girls’ state basketball championship after defeating top-seeded George Washington 54-50 on Friday in Charleston.

The Mohigans trailed by 13 points at halftime but outscored the Patriots 21-6 in the third quarter to take a two-point lead into the final frame and didn’t surrender the lead for the final eight minutes of the game.

Freshman Kayli Kellogg led the Mohigans with a double-double of a game-leading 18 points and 12 rebounds. She was joined in double-digits by senior Sofia Wassick with 17 and junior Sadaya Jones with 12. The three combined for 47 of Morgantown’s 54 points, including 34 points in the second half as a trio. They shot 13 for 21 from the field in the final 16 minutes.

“We got the win and I am so proud of these ladies today, I can’t say that enough,” MHS head coach Doug Goodwin said. “They stayed composed when we got down, the first-half strategy wasn’t really going our way but we made some simple adjustments with what we wanted to do, got back to our roots with our defense and some players made some plays when it was time.”

Morgantown’s Kaylir Kellogg (12) celebrates with coach Doug Goodwin after defeating George Washington in Friday’s state semifinal in Charleston (Teran Malone/WVMetroNews)

GW jumped out to a 13-2 lead midway through the opening quarter and held it at double-digits, 18-8, after the first. The Patriots continued its offensive success in the second quarter but MHS didn’t allow the lead to get too far away and trailed 28-15 at the break.

MHS shot just 7 for 24 in the first half and committed nine turnovers as a team. The zone defense of the Mohigans was also allowing GW to find open shots as it made six in the opening half.

“I put 13 points up on the board in the locker room at half and just asked them if we could overcome this,” Goodwin said. “Their answer to that was yes.”

Goodwin’s squad came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, going on a 12-0 run that cut the GW lead to one point in the first three minutes of the third quarter.

After trading baskets, the Mohigans got a stop on defense and took the lead 33-32 on a layup by Wassick at the 2:32 mark of the third quarter. She scored eight of her 17 points in the third. Other than the game being knotted at 42 midway through the fourth quarter, the Mohigans stayed ahead of GW for the rest of the game.

The two sides traded points back and forth through the first half of the fourth quarter as MHS narrowly held its two-point lead 42-40 out of a timeout. 

The Patriots tied the game at 42, but Jones stepped up in a big way for MHS, scoring a fastbreak layup and then nailing a three from the corner to push the lead to two possessions 47-42. Jones was 0 for 4 in the game before the shot to extend the lead with 2:46 to go.

Morgantown’s Sadaya Jones (2) drives to the hoop against George Washington during Friday’s state semifinal in Charleston (Teran Malone/WVMetroNews)

“My jump shot isn’t my first choice all the time but I’ve worked hard on it and the confidence my teammates have in me helps too,” Jones said. “Usually I’m a slasher and I had some room to drive the ball but in that key moment I was just feeling it and knocked it down.”

MHS freshman Abby Paulsen’s layup swelled the lead to 50-42 with 1:13 remaining but Zaniah Zellous scored a layup and converted two free throws to cut into the lead 50-46.

MHS turned the ball over and Zellous converted another layin to cut the Mohigan lead to one possession with 30 seconds to go.

The Patriots only had one total team foul in the fourth to that point and it took 15 seconds of game time for them to force MHSi into the bonus.

With 14 seconds left, Kellogg stepped up to the line and knocked down two free throws, extending the lead 52-48. 

The Patriots took nearly ten seconds off the clock before Zellous scored a volleyball-style tip-in and with 2.1 seconds to go, were forced to send Kellogg to the free-throw line once again.

The freshman calmly swished home both of her attempts to make the lead 54-50 and the Patriots were left without enough time to make up the difference.

Morgantown’s Kayli Kellogg (12) shoots free throws against George Washington during Friday’s state semifinal in Charleston (Teran Malone/WVMetroNews)

“I knew how big those free throws were if we wanted to move on,” Kellogg said. “I know that my coaches and teammates have confidence in me and that helped me step up and make those.”

The Mohigans will play for their third-straight Class AAAA state championship seeking their second-straight title after defeating Wheeling Park in the same contest last season.

The Class AAAA state championship is set to tip off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Morgantown 54, George Washington 50
MHS 8 7 21 18 — 54
GW 18 10 6 16 — 50
GEORGE WASHINGTON — Zellous 9 2-4 20; Lohan 3 0-0 9; Pryor 3 0-0 6; Breckenridge 2 0-0 5; Smith 2 2-2 8; Barton 1 0-0 2; Adkins 0 0-0 0; Sosebee 0 0-0 0.
MORGANTOWN — Kellogg 6 4-4 18; Wassick 8 1-2 17; Jones 5 1-2 12; Hatcher 2 1-3 5; Paulsen 1 0-0 3; Smith 0 0-0 0; Howell 0 0-0 0. 
3-Pt. Goals — George Washington 6 (Lohan 3 Smith 2 Breckenridge 1); Morgantown 3 (Kellogg 2 Jones 1)