As a best-of-five series, Morgantown came up short against Wheeling Park this season. But for the second time in a championship game setting, the Mohigans reigned supreme, thanks in large part to a gritty effort from Lily Jordan.
A 6-foot junior, Jordan finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four assists Saturday morning as she willed her team to a 54-50 victory against familiar rival Wheeling Park in the Class AAAA title game at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.
Sofia Wassick added 14 points and eight rebounds and Kate Hawkins scored a dozen points for Morgantown, which fell to Huntington in last year’s state final.
It’s the 10th overall crown for the Mohigans (23-5), who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed behind the Patriots (25-3), who won three of their five meetings this season. Morgantown also beat Park in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference title game.
“This group, I’m so daggone proud of them,’’ Morgantown coach Doug Goodwin said. “This has been the goal since Day 1. Last year, runner-up, and it didn’t seem like anything else would do for us.’’
Jordan scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half and appeared to grab every crucial rebound down the stretch. Her driving shot with 1:20 left broke a tie and gave Morgantown the lead for good at 49-47.
After Park’s Lala Woods sank two free throws to tie the game at 47 with 1:32 remaining, Morgantown scored the next seven points to put the victory on ice. The Mohigans were 10 of 13 at the foul line in the fourth quarter and 18 of 22 for the game.
“Stepping up to the line when it mattered and keeping us in the game was huge,’’ Goodwin said. “It just showed the experience they have on this court, and you can’t replace that.’’
The game featured nine ties and eight lead changes and kept the vocal crowd on its feet with one big play after another, many of them by Jordan, who wouldn’t be denied when she went after a missed shot.
“Lily did a fantastic job for us today,’’ Goodwin said. “She had some bunnies in the first half that didn’t go [2 of 7 shooting], but I told her to keep going. ... It’s hard to get a ball off this young lady. I can’t say enough about her game today.’’
Like it did in the semifinals against Spring Mills, when it fell behind by 19 points in the second quarter, Wheeling Park experienced a slow start Saturday, going scoreless for the first six minutes, including 0 of 8 shooting with three turnovers.
However, the Patriots gunned in a pair of 3-pointers in the final 27 seconds of the first half to shave Morgantown’s lead to 19-18 at the break — after trailing by nine points.
“We got ourselves in a hole early, then settled down finally,’’ Park coach Ryan Young said. “Next thing you know, we’re down one point in a game we didn’t play well in.
“We had a great third quarter and eliminated some of the things that were a problem, especially rebounding, but we weren’t able to do it into the fourth quarter. ... It felt like we had momentum, and if we won the third quarter, we’d win the game, and we did. But the fourth quarter, things didn’t go our way. It’s basketball; it wasn’t any one play or one player.’’
Morgantown ended up with a 40-26 edge in rebounding and yanked down 19 offensive rebounds, five of them by Jordan.
“She’s a tough matchup,’’ Young said of Jordan. “Incredible player. ... What Jordan does really well is she’s great at shooting the basketball and attacking her own miss. She’s a strong kid and not many kids are equipped like her from a skill standpoint.’’
Alexis Bordas caught fire for Park in the third quarter, knocking down five straight shots at one juncture, and finished with a game-high 24 points. Woods scored 14 and led her team with five rebounds.
Park’s Bordas established a state tournament scoring record for the fledgling Class AAAA division — which completed its third year — with 78 points. The Patriots’ Woods also bettered the former mark by tallying 63 points in this week’s three tournament games.