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WVU comes undone late, falls to Xavier, 84-74

CINCINNATI — After shooting 54 percent in the first half of Saturday’s matchup with Xavier, West Virginia went cold in the second half and failed to hit a field goal over the final 4-plus minutes of the game.

As a result, Xavier outscored the Mountaineers by 17 points after halftime and 19-6 over the final 6:46 to come away with an 84-74 victory before a sellout crowd at The Cintas Center.

“They made shots and we did not,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said in his return to Cincinnati to face a team he did annually during his storied career with the Bobcats. “They got open shots and made those. They also made their free throws. We missed our open shots and free throws.”

Huggins preached the importance of taking care of the ball and the Mountaineers finished with 12 turnovers, including seven in the second half.

“We did a good job, didn’t we,” Huggins said rhetorically. “We spend an enormous amount of time trying to fix it. Maybe we should always do dribble handoffs so they can hand it off and not have to pass it. It is hard for me to imagine.”

West Virginia (6-2) had three double-figure scorers, including Erik Stevenson, who led the way with 16 points. Fourteen of Stevenson’s 16 points came in the first half as did all three of his 3-pointers.

Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Jimmy Bell each scored 12 points in defeat.

West Virginia had three separate 8-0 spurts in the first half, including one to extend its lead to 41-30 late in the first haf.

Xavier (6-3) countered with a 6-0 run, before Stevenson knocked down a jumper with four seconds left to send WVU into the break leading 43-36.

The Mountaineers went into the break ahead 43-36.

Bell contributed half of WVU’s first 12 points after the break, including a driving layup with 15:25 left that gave the Mountaineers a 55-50 advantage.

“I learned to be patient,” Bell said. “I do not need to rush anything. I am a big body and can get to any spot. I took my time today, and I was able to score.”

WVU then made only 3-of-10 shots over the next 7 minutes.

While the Mountaineers’ offensive woes lingered throughout the second half, Xavier’s offense became effective through a high pick-and-roll. 

Time and time again, the Musketeers’ guards got downhill and found a driving lane or open teammate.

“You have to veer them off one way or another,” Huggins said. “You have to take something away and we do not take anything away. When you stand on the side, you say, ‘Go ahead.’

“We spent three days on the pick-and-roll and I thought we were doing a better job. We didn’t do a good job.”

Huggins believes forwards can help redirect the opposition, but noted that aspect needs improvement in the future.

“I have a hard time understanding why you do not stand in front of someone,” Huggins stated. “Why do you start on the side? It makes no sense to me. I told them I was slow and 6-foot-4, but I stayed in front of the guys. Was I stealing the ball from them and shifting them everywhere? No. I was in front of them, and they had to shoot it over me.”

Seven-footer Jack Nunge took advantage of the scrambling West Virginia defense as he connected on a triple with 4:40 left that put Xavier in front to stay at 73-70.

WVU’s final four points all came from Iowa transfer Joe Toussaint. He finished with nine points.

The Mountaineers missed 11 of their last 12 field-goal attempts.

Xavier was led by Souley Boum’s 23 points. Nunge added 17 to go with 14 rebounds, keying a 34-28 rebounding edge for the Musketeers.

Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel added 14 and 11 points, respectively, in the victory.

Tre Mitchell was limited to nine points in 17 minutes as the forward was plagued by four fouls.

The Mountaineers shot 27 of 59 for the game, while the Musketeers were near 54 percent by making 28-of-52 shots. Xavier also outscored West Virginia by 12 points a the free-throw line.

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Mission accomplished: Williamstown finishes job, handles James Monroe 52-20 in Class A title game

WHEELING, W.Va. — Williamstown head coach Chris Beck and James Monroe head coach John Mustain were in agreement Saturday’s Class A title game at Wheeling Island Stadium would largely be decided in the trenches.

Unfortunately for the Mavericks, that worked out well for the Yellowjackets.

No. 2 Williamstown consistently won at the point of attack to rush for 416 yards, 272 of which came from quarterback Maxwell Molessa, who added five rushing scores to pave the way in a resounding 52-20 victory over the top seed Mavericks.

“Our guys just play so hard. They have a lot of size up front, but you can’t measure heart,” Beck said. “We have a bunch of guys that just play like maniacs. We always talk about alignment, assignment and effort. We feel like if we know who to block and we go 100 miles per hour as hard as we can, good things will happen and we were fortunate that happened tonight.”

The win gives WHS (12-1) its third state championship and first since 2014 and also helps the Yellowjackets avenge a loss to Ritchie County in last year’s Class A final.

Williamstown followed in the footsteps of Class AA champion Independence and Class AAA champion Huntington, both of which also claimed state championships this season after runner-up finishes a year ago.

“It’s always great to win a championship, but after what happened last year, being able to make it all the way back and finish it, that’s something special,” WHS tailback Rickie Allen said. “It’s something else.”

Playing on a new stage, it was a nightmare start for JMHS (13-1). The Mavericks turned it over on their first play from scrimmage when Logan White forced a Chaz Boggs fumble that Harbor Haught pounced on at the Mavericks’ 31 and returned 6 yards.

“That’s a backbreaker when something like that happens that quick,” Mustain said. “Would it have made a difference in the game? I don’t know. Maybe it would have and maybe not, but you hate to have that happen that quickly in a game like this. But hats off to them. They have a fantastic team.“

Four plays later, tailback Allen scored the first of Williamstown’s seven touchdowns on a 1-yard run. Molessa used his legs to convert the 2-point attempt, giving Williamstown an 8-0 lead.

The Mavericks settled in on their second series and Boggs atoned for the fumble with a 25-yard touchdown run. Layton Dowdy’s 2-point pass to Eli Allen enabled the Mavericks to pull even at 8 at the 8:40 mark of the opening quarter.

The game didn’t remain tied for long. 

Molessa’s 64-yard touchdown run on third-and-5 put the Yellowjackets back on top 2:26 later, and though he was stopped short on the conversion attempt, Williamstown was in front to stay.

“I knew I had a line that’s disciplined and would get me the holes I needed,” Molessa said. “I was just going to make the best of what I was given.”

After Jacob Hall recovered a Haught fumble that allowed the Mavericks to start at Williamstown’s 34, the Yellowjackets’ defense delivered a key stop when Cooper Ridgeway was stopped at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-2 from the 26.

On the ensuing series, Molessa got into the open field and raced 55 yards to the end zone to make it 20-8. Molessa connected with Louis Goodnow on the 2-point play to up the Yellowjackets’ lead to 14 just 46 seconds into the second quarter.

“He’s a stud. He’s a gamer. The line dominated up front, but Max made a lot of guys miss on his own,” Allen said. “He was the best player on either team and that was clear tonight. I love having him as my QB and best friend.”

Ridgeway’s 2-yard TD run capped off a 69-yard drive and brought the Mavericks to within eight, but the 2-point attempt failed, leaving WHS with a 22-14 lead at the 5:35 mark of the second quarter.

The Yellowjackets responded with an 84-yard drive that featured a pair of third-down conversions, including Molessa’s 9-yard TD run on third-and-2.

Allen reached the end zone on the 2-point play, giving Williamstown a 30-14 lead 1:03 before halftime.

“I thought the beginning of the game was going to be critical with an inexperienced bunch like they have as far as this atmosphere and everything,” Beck said. “If things don’t go your way early, it can kind of set a tone. That got them behind the 8-ball and I really believe they wanted to slow the game down with a power run game to limit possessions. Once you get them behind and they’re chasing, that changes the complexion of what they want to do.”

That score stood until the opening series of the second half when Molessa accounted for his fourth rushing touchdown from 4 yards, which combined with his successful 2-point run, gave the Yellowjackets their biggest lead to that point at 38-14.

Molessa’s final touchdown came on a 17-yard run to start the fourth quarter and he again used his legs to run in the 2-point try and make it 46-14.

Dowdy found Boggs for a 48-yard touchdown pass on a crossing pattern to provide the Mavericks with their final points, before Allen answered with a 5-yard touchdown run for the final scoring play of the contest.

“It’s always easiest when your best players are your hardest workers,” Beck said. “Nobody works harder than those two. They deserve everything they get. They’re selfless and they know if a team is taking one weapon away, the other guy can have a big night.”

The 52 points allowed by the Mavericks were 30 more than they surrendered in any other game this season and more than the 41 they allowed in 10 regular season games.

Molessa needed only 19 carries to rush for his game-high total with an average of 14.3 yards per attempt.

“The only thing on my mind was to bring this trophy back. Whether the yards came with or they didn’t, that didn’t matter to me as long as the trophy came back,” Molessa said.

Allen was also key in the victory and rushed 21 times for 116 yards.

Molessa completed all five of his passes for 58 yards.

The Mavericks were out-gained 474-242.

JMHS rushed for 120 yards on 32 attempts and Dowdy completed 7-of-11 passes for 114 yards.

Boggs had a game-high 58 receiving yards and Eli Allen followed with 56. A

“That’s a heck of a team and I knew they would be,” Mustain said. “Hard running backs and a good line up front. We don’t have anything to hang our heads about as far as I’m concerned. Everybody always talks about they don’t remember who comes in second, well so what. I don’t give a crap about that. We’re here and a bunch of other teams weren’t here.”

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Postgame video recaps: Williamstown 52, James Monroe 20 (Class A final)

(MetroNews broadcast highlights)

WHEELING, W.Va. — Check out postgame video recaps from No. 2 Williamstown’s 52-20 win over No. 1 James Monroe in the Class A Championship.

(Greg Carey and Joe Brocato break down the game)

(Postgame “Round of Sound”) 

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Morgantown’s Irene Riggs takes first place at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland

Morgantown senior Irene Riggs continues to make quite a splash as a long distance runner on a national scale.

Riggs raced by the field Saturday at the Nike Cross Nationals at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, finishing a challenging course in 16:40 for a comfortable victory in a field of 195 runners.

Saturday’s finish time allowed for Riggs to win by nearly 14 full seconds.

Riggs was coming off a dominant showing at the Nike Southeast Regionals in Cary, North Carolina, where she shattered the course record and recorded the second-fastest time for a high school girl in a 5K at 16:02. That mark beat the previous course record by more than 20 seconds.

Riggs is bound for Stanford upon graduating from Morgantown in 2023. She led the Mohigans to their fourth straight Class AAA cross country championship in October when she easily broke the 5K course record in Ona with a finish time of 16:32.


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Mylan Park Aquatic Center plans first annual Swim-a-Thon to support operations

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The First Annual Mylan Park Aquatic Center Swim-a-Thon is set for Sunday at Mylan Park in Morgantown.

Mylan Park Aquatics & Track, Director Jennifer Lainhart said they need community support to keep prices to the public affordable and continue holding free events.

Jennifer Lainhart

But Lainhart said they also want to welcome the public in to see exactly what they offer and what it takes to maintain the facility in order to offer quality programming.

“We want to tell our story about how we need support of the community to continue operations,” Lainhart said. “Mylan Park is a non-profit organization, so this is a non-profit running a full recreational facility and the way it pays for itself is through usage.”

The Aquatic Center is a 90,000-square foot indoor facility with a 50-meter Olympic pool and diving well. The facility also has community pool with zero-depth entry, water slides, a splash pad and six-lane lap pool. There is also a fitness room and spaces available for rent to the public for special events.

“Our power bill on average is anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000-per month, so there are ongoing, high costs of running a facility like this,” Lainhart said.

The event event is scheduled for Sunday but for those who cannot participate that day laps can be completed through Dec. 15.

“It’s a big space to heat and we want to keep it warm when people come in from the cold to go swimming,” Lainhart said.


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Defensive-minded Highlanders rise to the challenge, romp past Parkersburg South 28-3 to win Class AAA final

WHEELING, W.Va. — Over its first 13 games of the 2022 season, Parkersburg South averaged better than 52 points, including nearly 65 over three postseason wins.

Huntington was well aware of the Patriots’ offensive proficiency ahead of their matchup in Saturday’s Class AAA final at Wheeling Island Stadium and accepted the challenge head on.

All the Highlanders did was keep a team that had scored at least 20 points in every game and 32-plus in all but one out of the end zone, while holding the Patriots scoreless over the final three quarters and Huntington gradually pulled away for a 28-3 victory.

“We read a lot of things this week all about Parkersburg South’s offense. I challenged our defense this week that our program was built on defense since I’ve been here and it’s going to continue to be that way,” Highlanders’ head coach Billy Seals said. “Our kids executed the plan, played fast and PS is really good on offense. They scored a bunch on everyone, but our kids played lights out today.”

The win gives the second-seeded Highlanders (13-1) their first state championship in football, while it denied top seed Parkersburg South (12-2) from claiming its second title.

A game-changing sequence came late in the opening half with the Patriots in possession and leading 3-0.

Faced with second-and-23 from its own 33-yard line, Parkersburg South quarterback Robert Shockey was sacked and stripped by the Highlanders’ Donovan Garrett, while nose guard Kiyou Jackson recovered the fumble to give Huntington the ball at the Patriots’ 26 with 1:38 to play in the second quarter.

Gavin Lochow’s 18-yard run moved the Highlanders into the red zone on that ensuing sequence and then tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to D’Edrick Graves on third-and-goal to give HHS the lead.

The first of four point-after kicks from Jonathan Aya-Ay left the Highlanders with a 7-3 lead that stood through halftime.

“We really came to our senses and remembered that we took it personal that people said Parkersburg South had too many weapons,” standout Huntington lineman Robby Martin said. “We knew we were the better team and we were going to take it to them and that’s what we did.”

The Huntington lead remained four at the midpoint of the third quarter, and it initially was ruled to have increased to 10 points after cornerback Duane Harris ripped the ball from Shockey, recovered the fumble and returned it for a touchdown.

However, the Patriots challenged the ruling and replays showed Shockey’s knee was down just before the fumble, allowing PSHS to maintain possession.

“I told our guys, ‘As long as this is taking, it’s going to get overturned.’ They were trying to see where they were going to spot the ball and all that,” Seals said. “I told our defense relax, play the next snap and keep them out of the end zone.”

But as was the case for much of the second half, the Patriots couldn’t overcome self-inflicted mistakes. They committed four penalties on the series after the replay, which led to them punting on fourth-and-20 from the Huntington 44.

“It was like we couldn’t get out of our own way,” PSHS head coach Nathan Tanner said. “Offensively, we get in a rhythm and then shoot ourselves in the foot. That put us behind the 8-ball a lot and against a good team like Hunt, you can’t do that.”

Four plays after the punt, Zah Jackson broke into the open field and the sophomore sensation displayed his breakaway speed on a 77-yard touchdown run that made it a two-score game for the first time with 1:35 on the third-quarter clock.

“It felt great. Our linemen and skill guys at receiver had great blocks,” Jackson said. “They just opened holes for me and I ran through them.”

The Highlanders forced another PSHS punt after increasing their lead to 11, and then put together a 10 play, 56-yard drive that was capped by Graves’ 6-yard touchdown run to all but seal the verdict with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“When they went up 14-3, that made it kind of tough,” Tanner said. “Up to that point, I felt like we were still in it. We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”

Jordan Price forced a Shockey fumble that Gavin Adkins recovered later in the fourth, leading to Graves’ third touchdown on a 12-yard run that capped the scoring in the contest with 3:55 left.

“Great job by the young man. He just kind of stayed the course,” Seals said. “He and Zah have been together their whole life. It’s kind of thunder and lightning. D’Edrick is more of the straight ahead power runner and Zah is more of the scat back making big plays. Happy for D’Edrick and the day he had.”

The Patriots finished with 15 penalties for 135 yards, 13 of which came after halftime and accumulated all but 26 of the penalty yards.

Jackson led all players with 165 rushing yards and was named Huntington’s Most Outstanding Player.

Lochow followed with 107 yards on the ground and completed 11-of-20 passes for 72 yards in windy conditions.

“The weather and wind was crazy so I knew it was going to be hard on Gavin throwing the ball,” Harris said. “I wanted to make plays on the defensive side and then our RBs and Gavin stepped up. I’m proud of the whole team. We worked hard for this and deserve it.”

Patriots’ tailback Gage Wright had a valiant effort in defeat, rushing 17 times for 122 yards and tying Turner Garretson for the team lead in tackles with 10. He was named the Patriots’ Most Outstanding Player.

Shockey was limited to 18 yards on the ground and completed 14-of-22 passes for 81 yards.

Harris led all players with 12 tackles in the win.

“We knew this is Huntington and we have all the athletes and players,” Harris said. “We showed everybody who has the real players.”

One year after the Highlanders fell short in the Class AAA final against Martinsburg, they became the second 2021 runner-up to go out on top this time around. Independence did likewise in Friday’s Class AA title game.

“I’ve thought about it every day and every night,” Lochow said. “I’ve never felt worse than leaving here after that game. I don’t think I’ll ever feel better in my life than leaving here today. The guys bought in and did what we were coached to do. The coaches put us in great positions and we did our job and won.”

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Postgame video recaps: Huntington 28, Parkersburg South 3 (Class AAA Championship)

(MetroNews broadcast highlights)

WHEELING, W.Va. — Check out postgame video recaps from No. 2 Huntington’s 28-3 win over No. 1 Parkersburg South in the Class AAA Championship.

(Greg Carey and Joe Brocato break down the game) 

(Postgame “Round of Sound) 


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Fundraising underway for all-inclusive playground at Mylan Park

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – SteppingStones in Monongalia County is raising $2 million to build an all-inclusive, barrier-free playground for all ages at Mylan Park.

Stepping Stones Executive Director Monica Marietta said the playground will be in the heart of Mylan Park near Miracle Field, the all-inclusive baseball diamond with a rubberized surface similar to what the new playground will have.

“We want children with disabilities, adults with disabilities to be able to play with their cousins, their siblings and their grandparents so this is a place for everyone to play not just for children with disabilities,” Marietta said.

The park will feature smooth surfaces and easy access throughout. Marietta said it will be an area available to the entire community to promote physical activity for those dealing with a disability.

“There’s going to be a combination of rubber surface and turf,” Marietta said. “So, no mulch, no rock and nothing that will cause a tripping hazard.”

In addition to surfaces, the playground will also feature amenities that people with disabilities can access on their own. Independence is something they want to promote while still encouraging family and group activities.

“Our merry-go-round is actually sunken into the ground, so you walk right onto it,” Marietta said. “There’s no jumping on it, you can roll a wheelchair or walker right on it, so if grandma and grandpa can’t their legs up they can just step right on it.”

Commissioners in Monongalia County have agreed to match up to $300,000 in donations with county funds and SteppingStones has received a $50,000 grant from the Milan Puskar Foundation.

“Things are starting to happen and move very quickly,” Marietta said. ” We’re hoping our prayers are answered and we get all the funding together for this playground very quickly and we could potentially break ground on this playground in the spring of 2023.”

To contact SteppingStones for more information call 304-983-STEP(7837) or email [email protected] or click here.


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Arrest made in Fayette County murder case

HILLTOP, W.Va. — A Fayette County man is in custody after being charged in connection with a Nov. 21 shooting death.

Kayce Simms

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department said Kayce Simms, 20, of Mount Hope, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ashtin Owens, 37, of Scarbro. His body was found in a residence at the Mountain Air Mobile Home Park in Hilltop.

Simms is being held in the Southern Regional Jail without bail.

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Recently resigned circuit judge publicly admonished for courtroom behavior

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — A now resigned West Virginia circuit judge has been publicly admonished by the state Judicial Investigation Commission.

Former judge David Hummel

David Hummel, who was circuit judge in Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties until he resigned last week, violated the Code of Judicial Conduct nearly a half dozen times. The state Judicial Disciplinary Counsel voted 7-0 that probable cause existed in each of the violations.

As part of the case, Hummel accepted the admonishment and agreed to never seek judicial office again in the state.

One of the violations had to do with Hummel pulling out a gun in open court during a March hearing in Wetzel County. An attorney said Hummel unholstered the gun when she was trying to have him removed from a gas royalty case because of a possible conflict of interest.

Another charge from the JIC, said Hummel brought a 7-year-old girl to tears when he accused her of lying during a hearing on an abuse and neglect case. He accused the girl’s six-year-old sister of plotting with the mother to falsify allegations against the father.

Hummel later dismissed the case against the father.

There will be no other formal discipline against Hummel from the JIC because he chose to resign.

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