The Voice of West Virginia
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Martinsburg’s 72-36 win over Spring Mills.
(Photos courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)
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POCA, W.Va. — Photos from Chapmanville’s 45-40 win at Poca.
For a complete game recap, check out Greg Carey’s story: Click here
(Photos courtesy of Chuck Roberts)
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Huntington’s LaTahia Jackson finished off a conventional three-point play with 5:26 left in Saturday’s game at University, the Highlanders had cut their deficit in half to 35-32.
But much like they did throughout the afternoon, the Hawks relied on their defense down the stretch. University limited Huntington to one field goal and five points the rest of the way, outscoring the Highlanders 10-5 down the stretch to claim a 45-37 victory.
“We’ve been really anchoring down on the defensive end,” UHS head coach David Price said, “and I think the offense will come as the year wears on.”
A technical foul assessed to the Highlanders’ bench — the second of the contest — allowed the Hawks’ Ashten Boggs to make two free throws with 4:51 remaining.
Leading by five, University (8-4) then put together perhaps the most important possession of the game. The Hawks worked the ball around the perimeter to use clock, before Abbie Coen worked herself free for an uncontested layup with 2:55 left.
“We wanted to work the ball on the offensive end and make sure we got good looks,” Price said. “I thought down the stretch we got a little better looks when we were doing that.”
The Hawks led by at least six the rest of the way, with Kaitlyn Swann’s jump shot that made it 43-36 proving to be the lone Huntington (8-4) field goal over the final five-plus minutes.
“I thought their girls played well,” Huntington head coach Lonnie Lucas said of UHS. “We didn’t step up to the challenge.”
The Highlanders got 3-pointers from Ravyn Goodson and Swann in the late stages of the opening quarter to hold a 12-11 lead.
Boggs scored four points early in the second period to help the Hawks take a 17-14 lead, and her two free throws capped the first-half scoring to send UHS into the break with a 23-20 advantage.
Coen scored from close range twice early in the third quarter to give the Hawks a 27-21 lead, before Huntington reeled off five straight points to get to within one.
However, Mallory Napolillo answered with a critical 3 late in the third that helped UHS take a 31-27 lead into the fourth.
“We were forcing stuff and trying to shoot over (Huntington’s Madison Slash) and that wasn’t working out very well,” Price said. “Mallory did a great job sending her somewhere and then stepping through, so you have to give her a lot of credit for that. That helped us.”
Boggs and Napolillo did the bulk of the scoring for the Hawks. Boggs led all players with 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Napolillo was 6-of-10 shooting with 14 points.
Swann’s 11 points were a team-high in the loss, while Jackson scored 10. The Highlanders’ Madison Slash led all players with 13 rebounds, helping Huntington outrebound UHS, 32-27. The Hawks helped offset that by forcing 16 turnovers and committing 10.
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This was bound to happen at some point, and Kansas State was the perfect foil to exploit a weakness that has been evident to anyone who has followed West Virginia closely this season.
The Mountaineers are lacking in the backcourt, and if a solution is not found soon, this team’s aspirations of a Big 12 title and a long postseason run are in jeopardy.
The unpleasant truth that no one wants to bring up in polite company is now becoming unavoidable: sophomore Jordan McCabe is not good enough to be a starting point guard in the Big 12.
Miles McBride still has a lot of very freshman flaws to his game — picking up his fourth foul 90 feet from the basket at Kansas State demonstrated that well enough. But it’s time to cut the pretense and hand him the keys. McBride needs to be West Virginia’s starting point guard, beginning Monday night when Texas visits WVU Coliseum with its frenetic defense.
If nothing else, maybe a change in scenery is what McCabe needs to unlock his potential, because this team still needs him to contribute in a positive manner. That’s not happening at the moment. In 10 minutes against the Wildcats, he had three points, three turnovers and two assists.
McCabe had one of the worst of West Virginia’s 18 turnovers, a baffling crosscourt pass to a cornered Chase Harler that flew out of bounds. At that moment, Kansas State had a 5-on-4 advantage in the half-court, so whatever he was attempting to create did not exist.
McCabe had two feasible options: slow down and set up WVU’s half-court offense, or toss it eight feet away to Taz Sherman, who was wide-open for a three from the wing. Instead, he chose the first row of Bramlage Coliseum.
McCabe’s poor performance was not a case of small-sample bias.
In five Big 12 games, McCabe is averaging 3.2 points, 1.2 assists and two turnovers per game. He’s been bad, plain and simple.
But he does work hard, much in the manner of sixth-man supreme Gabe Osabuohien. In a game where the Mountaineers came out flat like they did on Saturday, McCabe would have been a lot more valuable to his team as a spark plug off the bench.
In additional fairness to McCabe, his turnover-to-assist ratio would be better if teammates were actually doing something upon catching one of his passes.
In particular, Emmitt Matthews is careening dangerously towards lost-cause status for the Mountaineers offense.
Matthews hasn’t reached double figures since scoring 10 points against Nicholls State on Dec. 14. In the eight games since, Matthews is 5 of 22 from the field (22.7 percent), including 0-for-9 from three-point range.
It’s not just a shooting issue. Matthews inexcusably had his pocket picked from behind while dribbling carelessly in the backcourt in the latter stages of the first half, allowing the Wildcats a free bucket to extend their lead to 17 right before halftime.
The problem is if Matthews can’t get it done from the wing, then some amalgamation of Jermaine Haley, Taz Sherman or Sean McNeil has to do it. Those guys combined for 10 points against the Wildcats — six for McNeil and four for Haley — while Haley had his worst defensive showing of the season in 16 lackluster minutes.
Sherman, the junior college transfer, does not look capable of carrying the load. The most telling sign of his confidence level came in the first half when he thought better of taking a wide-open jumper, then threw a pass directly to a Kansas State player. The Wildcats turned that fast break into three points on the other end.
It’s a credit to Huggins and West Virginia’s many strengths that thus far only three teams have been capable of beating the Mountaineers despite their obvious cracks. This is still a talented team, and Saturday’s loss is no reason to panic.
It is, however, reason to make a change in the starting lineup before the cracks begin to widen.
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NUTTER FORT, W.Va. — Robert C. Byrd scored a season-best 80 points as they held off a late push from Tug Valley, defeating the Panthers 80-62 at One Eagle Way.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Flying Eagles have won seven in a row.
“They were tough to guard,” said RCB head coach Bill Bennett. “Ideally, we do want to hold people in the 40’s. That’s the way it has been for eighteen years now. But this was just a little bit of a different game. We got in the situation where we were up and down but our kids are okay with that. We have so many guys that can score the basketball.”
RCB junior Gavin Kennedy led all scorers with 26 points. Sophomore Jeremiah King netted 19.
“Jeremiah has been coming along offensively, it is just a matter of confidence. Now he believes he can score and get to the foul line. He gets in there and plays against guys that are four or five inches taller than him and that doesn’t bother him.”
Bryson Lucas added 13 points for RCB and Thomas Hawkins chipped in with 11. The Flying Eagles played without senior starter Khori Miles, who was on a college visit.
“It was an opportunity for everyone. Rather than look at it as an adverse thing, we were looking at it as an opportunity. Everybody needed to step up and do a little bit more.”
Caleb May and Ethan Colegrove led Tug Valley (5-7) with 14 points each and Easton Davis added 10.
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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A Georgia man faces spending the rest of his life in prison after his conviction Friday in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg following a nine-day trial.
The federal criminal jury found Terrick Robinson, 35, of Cartersville, Georgia, guilty of numerous drug and gun crimes along with causing the drug death of a Fairmont woman.
Carter trafficked and sold 4.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, as well as cocaine hydrochloride and fentanyl, in Marion County and surrounding areas during a four-month period in the spring and summer of 2018. He would bring the drugs from Georgia once a week, set-up in hotel rooms and sell it.
Courtney Dubois of Fairmont was part of one of those transactions in a Jane Lew hotel on August 9, 2018. The fentanyl she purchased claimed her life. Robinson took Dubois’ body back to Georgia where he dismembered it and disposed of it in a landfill.
The jury found Robinson guilty of all eight charges against him. The combined sentences could send him to federal prison for the rest of his life.
“This was a horrific crime, involving drugs, guns and death,” U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said. Though the verdict will not bring back Ms. Dubois, we hope her family gets some closure by the result of this trial and prior guilty pleas in this investigation. The verdict is the result of many hours of excellent work by the prosecution and law enforcement teams. I also want to thank the Georgia authorities who assisted in bringing this defendant to justice.”
It only took the jury about three hours to convict Robinson.
Two co-defendants in the case previously pleaded guilty to associated charges. A third, Seddrick Damond Banks, age 27, of Cartersville, Georgia, is scheduled to go on trial beginning March 23.
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Maybe it was destiny.
West Virginia’s previous two losses this season came on trips to Manhattan (St. John’s) and Kansas (Kansas).
Combining the two? A recipe for doom when visiting “The Octagon of Doom” in Manhattan, Kan.
The No. 12 Mountaineers (14-3, 3-2 Big 12) were blown out for the first time this year, getting outclassed in every element of the game in an 84-68 loss to Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats (8-9, 1-4) snapped a four-game losing streak to open conference play.
“We weren’t ready,” Bob Huggins said on his postgame radio interview. “They were ready, and they were desperate. Our guys weren’t desperate. They took it to us.”
K-State crossed the 80-point barrier for only the second time this season. The other instance was an 86-41 win over Alabama State, which is ranked 341st of the nation’s 345 teams by kenpom.com.
Kansas State’s defense forced 18 West Virginia turnovers and turned them into 28 points.
Jordan McCabe, Jermaine Haley and Emmitt Matthews were particularly vulnerable against the Wildcats, each committing three turnovers while doing little to compensate for it. That trio matched its turnover total with just nine combined points.
Huggins didn’t have many better options.
Taz Sherman played five minutes off the bench in the first half. His lone shot bounced off the side of the backboard, and he committed two turnovers — including one that essentially served as an assist for a DaJuan Gordon three-pointer — and he was glued to the bench for the entirety of the second half.
The Wildcats feasted from three-point range against a West Virginia defense that came into the game ranked second nationally against long-distance shooting. Kansas State shot 9-for-18 from beyond the arc, well above its season average of 32.3 percent. The Wildcats shot 59 percent (29 of 49) from the field overall.
“We’ve got to run ’em off the line, and run ’em to help,” Huggins said. “We didn’t run ’em off the line. We just let guys stand there and make shots.”
Scott Sewell/USA TODAY Sports
Cartier Diarra proved impossible to stop, scoring a game-high 25 points while hitting 4 of his 6 threes. Gordon nailed a trio of threes on his way to 15 points, and forward Xavier Sneed added another 16 points for the Wildcats.
Though he did not name the culprit, Huggins called out one of his players in his postgame interview.
“I had a guy who came out because he said he was tired from yesterday’s practice,” Huggins said. “He shouldn’t have came.”
West Virginia’s leading scorers were far from the usual suspects. Miles McBride had 11 points, but only shot 4 of 10 from the field. He was joined by Chase Harler, who also had 11. Gabe Osabuohien, averaging 1.8 points per game, scored a West Virginia career-high with 10 points.
Rebounding, which should have been West Virginia’s biggest advantage in the game, was nearly a draw. The Mountaineers only out-rebounded Kansas State by a slim 29-28 edge.
West Virginia nearly shaved off a 24-point deficit in the second half, trimming the margin down to 60-54 with 7:44 left in the game. But the Mountaineers appeared to expend the balance of their energy in that rally. Kansas State responded with a 9-0 spurt of its own to put the game back out of reach with just under five minutes remaining.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — More than 100 vacant properties in Morgantown are creating challenges for city workers, police and neighborhoods.
Mike Stone, the director of code enforcement said officials do their best to limit risks and keep neighborhoods safe, but the problem is not going away.
“People that find out they are vacant and take up residence in these buildings,” Stone said. “I think that’s the biggest concern.”
Stone said officials learn about vacant properties from people in neighborhoods, regular code enforcement patrols and information developed by police. Stone added from that information, officials have found vacant properties that require extensive repairs; one case includes a structure falling off of the foundation.
Property owners are expected to keep vacant properties secure or board them up, but Stone said it doesn’t always work that way.
“We went over within 15 minutes of getting the call the building was cleared and started boarding a structure back up,” Stone said. “As my guys were putting the last screw in the plywood, they heard someone inside yelling, ‘Let me outta here, let me outta here.'”
Stone called it a continuing problem.
“We have boarded up several ourselves, my guys will go out and find one that’s vacant with vagrants in it. The police will clear the building and we take over plywood, screw guns and screws to secure the building,” Stone said. “But tomorrow, we get a complaint that the building is open and occupied again.”
Stone said the problem is also a health safety issue for workers in the code enforcement division.
“The needle problem is a big problem, a very big problem,” Stone said. “Some of these places they take squatters rights and they have no utilities, so they build a little fire to keep warm and there’s another hazard.”
Stone stressed most landlords are good people that follow the rules and provide safe housing for residents and students. However, some property owners use the appeal process and other loopholes to avoid or stall when work on properties is ordered because of safety concerns or code violations.
SPENCER, W.Va. — A week after a Roane County volunteer lost his life in a fire truck wreck he was remembered by fellow firefighters from dozens of departments.
Funeral services were held Saturday for Mark Horwich, who died last Saturday when the Clover VFD truck he was driving left the highway and plunged into Little Sandy Creek near Newton. He was responding to a fire.
Horwich was also a member of the Spencer-Roane VFD.
Roane County Emergency Manager Melissa Gilbert told MetroNews earlier this week the death had struck a deep blow in her tight knit community.
“Mark was a fireman for two of our local fire departments so he had a lot of extended family because of that. Anytime a fireman is injured or dies in the line of duty, it touches every fireman across the state no matter which department you are with,” she said.
Horwich, who moved to West Virginia a few years ago from Nebraska. was buried in Looneyville.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Don’t expect Virginia counties to jump all over any invitation to hook up with West Virginia.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the people in the world. Bob Wells, on the board of supervisors representing one district representing Frederick county, his answer is “You’re wasting your time.’ I don’t see Virginia, any portion of Virginia, joining West Virginia for any reason whatsoever.”
That assessment was from, yes, Robert Wells, vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Frederick County, Va.
Wells spoke with MetroNews earlier this week in reaction to a West Virginia legislative resolution inviting Frederick County to accept a longstanding invitation to switch states.
While that resolution passed the West Virginia Senate, a different resolution in the House of Delegates would invite any dissatisfied Virginia county to come on over. Neither resolution has passed the full Legislature, and it’s not clear if they would.
Supervisor Wells says his focus is on the county budget right now. He suggests West Virginia find similar legislative purpose.
“My God, get something else to do,” he said on the telephone. “West Virginia, come on guys.”
The resolution, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, is a bit of unresolved business. It has its roots in West Virginia’s statehood during the Civil War.
Frederick was one of three Virginia counties that was invited to join West Virginia in 1862 by the reformed government of Virginia, then headquartered in Wheeling, W.Va., after Virginia succeeded from the Union.
Berkeley and Jefferson counties voted to join West Virginia, while Frederick County right where it was. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1870 that affirmed West Virginia as a state suggested the invitation to Frederick County to join West Virginia remained valid.
The resolution proposes, “That at such time as the citizens of Frederick County may desire for Frederick County to become part of the State of West Virginia, the citizens of the Mountain State will welcome them with open arms and rejoice in the addition of Frederick County to the State of West Virginia.”
Trump says his resolution was a friendly reminder of the history. The Senate passed it earlier this week, and it has gone to West Virginia’s House of Delegates for further consideration.
He acknowledges he’s stirred conversation in Virginia.
“The reaction’s been positive,” said Trump, R-Morgan. “People who’ve read the resolution have, I think, appreciated that it was very conciliatory in tone and flattering toward Frederick County. So I think they’re getting the sentiment that I had at least hoped to express.”
A news article focusing on the resolution that was posted on the “What’s happening in Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia” Facebook page drew 658 comments by midday Friday.
“There apparently is a little level — some level of interest,” Trump said.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 14, 2020
Another member of the Frederick Board of Supervisors, Shawn Graber, said some calls and emails have flowed to his office. But the notion hasn’t exactly caught fire, he said.
“This receiving one or two a day — it doesn’t rank up there above anything more than a simple rezoning of a piece of property,” Graber said.
Most who reach out favor the idea and want to know his position, Graber said. But he said it’s not his decision to make.
“If the voters at large desire to see happen, I would encourage the voters of the county to make a resolution and vote upon it,” Graber said.
In West Virginia, the House Government Organization Committee voted in favor of the resolution earlier this week. The resolution was referred to the House Rules Committee, a group of legislative leaders who shape what happens during full House floor sessions. So far, the Rules Committee has not done anything with the resolution.
In the House Government Organization Committee, there was an exchange of opposing views of the resolution.
Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-Marion, spoke up and said the resolution is a waste of time.
“We have so many issues in this state we’re trying to take care of,’ Angelucci said.
“The fact that the first full week of session we are discussing a resolution to bring in citizens from another state, my constituents think it’s a joke and it’s embarrassing. Let’s get back to worrying about West Virginians.”
A reply came from Delegate Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison.
“I also represent West Virginians and my constituents — I honestly can’t think of a better time to extend some of the rights that our citizens enjoy,” Hamrick said.
After the Government Organization Committee passed out the resolution about Frederick, it took up another, bigger, broader one sponsored by committee Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral.
This resolution, which has 38 sponsors out of the 100-member House, was “Admitting certain counties and independent cities of the Commonwealth of Virginia to the State of West Virginia as constituent counties.”
It invites any Virginia county with widespread feeling of neglect by the capital in Richmond to take a vote and switch states.
It alludes to political trends in Virginia. For example, as Virginia’s Legislature has considered a variety of gun control bills, most of Virginia’s counties have voted in favor of becoming “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” Gun-rights activists plan an enormous rally Monday at the Capitol in Richmond.
The resolution in West Virginia’s House of Delegates suggests Virginia counties consider a change:
Whereas, The Boards of Supervisors of many Virginia counties and the Councils of many Virginia cities have recognized this dangerous departure from the doctrine of the Founders on the part of the government at Richmond; and
Whereas, These Boards of Supervisors and Councils have passed resolutions refusing to countenance what they affirm are unwarranted and unconstitutional measures by that government to infringe the firearm rights of Virginians; and
Whereas, The actions of the government at Richmond undertaken since the recent general election have, regrettably, resulted in unproductive contention and escalating a lamentable state of civic tension
That resolution also passed the House Government Organization Committee and was referenced to the Legislature’s Rules Committee, where nothing has happened so far.
Wells, the vice chairman of the Frederick Board of Supervisors, concluded his conversation with West Virginia MetroNews with a counteroffer.
“I’ll tell you what. You all left us in the lurch,” he said. “Come on back.”
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