www.charlestondailymail.com Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Knapper, Stevens lead South Charleston past GW http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129509 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129509 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 23:58:02 -0500 By CHRISTOPHER WADE


While South Charleston standout Brandon Knapper was key in the Black Eagles' 51-45 victory over rival George Washington (8-4), so was Jalen Stevens.

Knapper, a West Virginia University commit, had 19 points in the first half as SC (12-1) led by 12 at halftime, and after GW made a big comeback, the junior made four clutch free throws with under 11 seconds left in the game in a two-point game to seal the boys basketball win.

Stevens, though, helped the Black Eagles maintain the lead with six steals, including a huge swipe with GW trailing by just two points with under a minute to play.

With SC leading 45-43, GW had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but on the possession, Stevens earned a steal and drove to the basket, scoring a layup with 31 seconds remaining to give the Black Eagles a four-point lead they wouldn't relinquish.

"Other than Brandon's scoring, I think if you had to pick a player of the game that really got some crucial things for us, it's Jalen Stevens," SC coach Vic Herbert said. "He was incredible tonight.

"What about that steal he had late in the game and that total game he had? He played a great game. I was so proud of Jalen. He played super and really came to play."

Stevens knows his role on the team and was glad to be able to help out on the defensive end.

"It was a real big steal," Stevens said. "I had to do something. I'm a defensive leader. Coach (Herbert) tells me I'm one of the best defenders. I usually get the hardest person to guard."

Knapper is glad to be able to play alongside Stevens.

"Jalen is my boy," Knapper said. "He got that big steal. He was really big tonight. That is one of his strongest things. He will lock you up. He doesn't worry about the offense but loves to play defense."

GW cut the lead back to two points on a layup from Larry Bryson with 13 seconds left, but Knapper hit two free throws with 10.5 seconds left, stole the ball on the next Patriots possession, and hit two more foul shots with 4.5 seconds to seal the win.

"Brandon was huge," Herbert said. "He played real well. He is creeping up a 1,000 points. The kid is an incredible player. He is so smart and always in position. He understands the game."

It was a big win for SC over its rival GW after the Black Eagles suffered their first loss to Hurricane on Thursday.

"It was a big win coming off the loss," Knapper said. "It was a wake-up call. We got big headed. We didn't want to feel that feeling again. We came together and come out with the win.

GW coach Rick Greene was proud of the comeback but said getting behind in the first half and 12 at the half was the difference.

"I thought the first half was where we got beat," Greene said. "I thought we did a nice job of fighting back and we got back in it. We are ready to compete against teams at that level. We just aren't ready to beat them yet. We are getting better every week though."

Jonah Cosby, a South Charleston transfer, led GW with 10 points and 11 rebounds against his former team. Anthony Dean added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Patriots.

UC men fall short against Fairmont State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129535 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129535 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 20:03:47 -0500 By Rich Stevens Former Wyoming East High School star Chase Morgan has morphed into a quality player for the Fairmont State men's basketball team.

He showed why with his performance down the stretch, against the University of Charleston, on the road at Eddie King Gym, in a game that the Falcons needed for sole possession of third place in the Mountain East Conference.

Morgan hit 12-13 free throws for the game, which included 8-8 in the final 28 seconds, as the Falcons held on for a 93-88 victory over the Golden Eagles (13-5, 8-4 MEC) on Saturday.

"What Chase Morgan is, he's a typical West Virginia high school basketball player who came in with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder," said third-year Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun, whose team has won four consecutive games and seven of its last eight. "He didn't get a whole lot of credit and he's gotten better and better.

"When he was at the foul line with 2 seconds, I knew they were going in."

The Golden Eagles trailed by three after a Vincent Dillard 3-pointer with 3 seconds left and immediately called their final timeout.

The ball went in to Morgan, who averaged 10.4 points in 22.3 minutes and was an 85.7-percent foul shooter (36-42) entering the contest. Both shots went down cleanly.

"I got a team behind me," said Morgan, who had a team-high 20 points in 28 minutes with no turnovers. "It's a real luxury when you know you have a team that has your back and you can trust like that."

Momentum shifted regularly in the game, which featured an announced crowd of 648.

Although the lead changed hands only twice and was tied just three times, UC held a 58-44 lead with 11:54 remaining. The Falcons led 38-27 with 3:18 left in the first half.

Fairmont went on a 16-2 run to tie it at 60 at the 6:46 mark toward avenging an 84-83 home loss to UC on Dec. 4.

"I told multiple people, we really didn't deserve to win the game up there, and here, I thought we deserved to win the game," UC coach Dwaine Osborne said. "In some aspects, but really, we probably stole it (up there) more than they stole it (down here). We played in spurts. They're a good team. We just have to figure out how to be a little bit more efficient."

The Fairmont pressure rattled UC early, and although Osborne wasn't sure if junior and leading scorer Aleksander Kesic was affected by the pace, he was held scoreless for the first time since Feb. 7, 2013 when he had no points and only one shot attempt in a 71-66 win over Concord at Eddie King Gym. He was 0-2 with three assists, two rebounds and three turnovers in 20 minutes on Saturday.

"I don't think it's the pace ... you know," Osborne said. "It felt like we had 15 turnovers (early) and multiple ones were like, hey, turn around and dump it in the basket. You have no chance to defend. If you go and throw it out of bounds, you can come back down and set your defense."

The official statistics had the Falcons (12-6, 9-3) with only one more point off turnovers, but the five more points off the bench didn't help the Golden Eagles.

Four of Fairmont's starters had double figures with Morgan coming off the bench for is 20. Shammgod Wells had 19 points, Jamel Morris 17, former Akron player Nick Harney 16 and Caleb Davis 12.

Cameron Dozier led the way for UC with a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds and Chris Evans added 23. Dillard had 14 and former George Washington standout Tino DiTrapano had 15 points, eight assists, four rebounds and only three turnovers in 34 minutes before fouling out with 21 seconds left.

Dozier had seven 3-pointers in the second half, coming up two short of the single-game school record.

Charleston returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Shepherd before playing host to West Liberty at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Fairmont will seek its fifth consecutive victory at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday against West Virginia State, which has lost 11 of its last 13.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail

Miles, Carter come through in OT as WVU edges TCU http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129539 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129539 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:13:02 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN - TCU came to the WVU Coliseum on Saturday and managed to erase a nine-point deficit in the first half and a seven-point deficit in the second half.

The Horned Frogs led No. 18 West Virginia by four points with 2:20 remaining in regulation and then by two with less than seven seconds left before a frenetic overtime period, where TCU fought for a five-point lead, its largest of the game, with 80 seconds left and then a one-point lead with 1.8 seconds to go.

And the Mountaineers won 86-85 thanks to freshman Jevon Carter's two free throws with 0.9 seconds to go before a crowd of 12,756.

"It says a lot about our mentality and our leadership," West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten said. "It says a lot about who we are as people. Everyone on this team is a fighter. We're competitors. We've been saying this was a must-win game, and it was up to us to find a way to win. As long as we keep pressuring and play as hard as we can, there's nothing we can't do."

Carter's free throws followed a basket by TCU's Trey Zeigler that could have won the game, but actually cost the Horned Frogs dearly.

"I looked and all I saw was purple in the paint," Carter said of the celebratory opposition.

Freshman Daxter Miles, who doesn't usually make inbound passes after made baskets, grabbed the ball, locked eyes with contact with Carter and gave him a head nod to tell him to run. Carter saw no one between him and his basket. Miles threw the pass and Carter was steps ahead of TCU's Kyan Anderson, who caught Carter as he went up for a layup.

"I make that pass a lot," Miles said. "I used to play football in high school, so I know how to throw a ball."

Carter let the ball bounce once and then tried to skip a layup in as Anderson closed and made contact with Carter's right arm and then his head.

"I didn't think I was going to get that call," Carter said, knowing teammate Devin Williams was harangued under the basket on a final shot as time expired in regulation and didn't draw a whistle. "Seeing how they were calling it in the paint, I didn't think I was going to get the call. Then I saw the ref put two fingers in the air."

That did not sit well with TCU coach Trent Johnson, who stomped onto the floor when the game was over and went after the officials as an assistant coach attempted to restrain him.

"This is really hard," said Johnson, whose team started the season 13-0 and is 1-5 since. "Nobody respects Bob Huggins and how hard his team plays more than I do, but I wish I could share the conversation that he and I had after the game. I'm going to tip my hat to them."

Asked about what he and the officials discussed, Johnson would not comment.

"I'm going to take the high road, and my team won't make excuses," he said.

Carter's free throws - his only attempts of the game - made sure WVU didn't lose back-to-back games for the first time this season. He finished with eight points, including a critical 3-pointer late in regulation that made it a one-point game with 2:06 to go.

Miles, though, was no less heroic. TCU (14-5, 1-5 Big 12) scored with 6.4 seconds to go for a 72-70 lead, but Miles drove most of the length of the court and pushed up a desperation shot under the rim. The layup hit the front of the rim and rolled in to send WVU (16-3, 4-2) to overtime for the first time this season.

"I was actually trying to get contact, and then I tired to get it up to the rim," Miles said. "He played good defense, and I just slid into the crease and let it go at the last second.

"I thought it was going in, but it kept taking its time. I'm like, 'Just go in already.'"

Miles, who was 2 for 10 from 3-point range in conference play, then made two 3s in the final 30 seconds of overtime, the first to cut TCU's lead to 82-81, the second to give WVU the lead 84-83. Zeigler, who put the Horned Frogs ahead at the end of regulation before Miles' layup, scored inside again to set up the finish by the freshmen.

"Dax made a great pass," Staten said. "He and Jevon are roommates, so they've got that good connection. They did their part there and made a great play."

Staten assisted on both of Miles' 3s and finished with 18 points and 12 assists. Williams added 18 points - 14 after halftime - and 12 rebounds for his third double-double in Big 12 play. Jonathan Holton played 40 minutes and had 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.

"Stayed out of foul trouble - finally," Huggins said of Holton. "He didn't rebound the way we need him to rebound, but he stayed out of foul trouble and he played. He hasn't played much. Our pressure is so much better with him in the game."

The Mountaineers played without junior college transfers Jaysean Paige, a former starter, and Tarik Phillip because of a coaching decision.

Anderson had 16 of his 22 points in the first half and was one of five players in double figures. Charles Hill Jr. had 13 points, with 10 coming in an 18-6 run that put the Horned Frogs up by four. That came after WVU's Elijah Macon missed two free throws ahead 58-51 with 7:57 to go. Amric Fields and Kenrich Williams both scored 11 points and Zeigler and Chris Washburn both added 10.

TCU outrebounded WVU 47-37, made 5 of 6 shots in overtime and only gave WVU 14 points off turnovers, about 10 fewer than what the Mountaineers average.

It wasn't enough, and Zeigler's big shots were minimized by his free throw shooting. He was 4 for 10 and missed a pair with TCU ahead 80-77 in overtime. The Horned Frogs were 28 for 44 in the game and 6 for 12 in the final 8:15.

Anderson, though, was 7 for 7 and is shooting 89.2 percent this season, yet he was made to continually inbound the ball to Zeigler, Williams and Brandon Parrish, who came into the game shooting 60.6, 56.5 and 55.6 percent from the line.

"Our coaches kept us informed about that," Carter said. "They told us who to foul and who not to foul. They said that whatever we do, make sure we don't foul Anderson."

Marshall men's hoops snaps skid with upset over UTEP http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129540 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129540 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:06:37 -0500 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - What Marshall men's basketball coach Dan D'Antoni sought from his Thundering Herd through nine straight losses - better shooting, better energy, more consistent play - were found Saturday against the University of Texas at El Paso.

And the Herd found its first win since Dec. 16, a 78-71 win over the Miners at the Cam Henderson Center.

Justin Edmonds scored a career-high 20, Ryan Taylor scored 10 of the Herd's last 11 points and 17 overall and, in his first start since Dec. 1, J.P. Kambola scored 13 points with nine rebounds. D'Antoni said the Herd (5-15, 1-6 Conference USA) seemed much more effective shooting.

"It just felt like we made shots that we haven't done before," D'Antoni said. "I know we made crucial shots. The key to the way we play is you have to be able to shoot and you have to have multiple shooters."

The Herd made 5 of its last 6 shots from the floor to close out the Miners (12-7, 4-3 C-USA). Meanwhile, UTEP scored just three points in the game's final 5:15 and made 1 of 9 from the floor in that span.

Before the Miners went cold, though, it looked like the Herd was setting itself up for another disappointing finish. After leading by as many as 11 in the second half, Marshall saw UTEP climb back into the game by outscoring the Herd 22-10 over the next 9:57. Vince Hunter's layup with 5:15 to go gave UTEP a 68-67 lead.

Then Taylor, Marshall's leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, took over. The Herd regained the lead for good on his layup with 3:20 left and he didn't miss the rest of the game, going 3 for 3 from the floor and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in that streak.

"Coach just tells me to be a leader on the court even though I'm a sophomore," Taylor said. "My teammates were giving me the ball in good positions and setting good pick and rolls. After that first one went down, I just felt good."

Any chance the Miners had of stealing away the game was swatted away by Kambola with 41 seconds to go. He blocked an Earvin Morris layup attempt and Morris fouled Taylor four seconds later to send Taylor to the line.

Kambola, who averaged 5.4 minutes over the last five games he played, earned the start Saturday after sparking the team off the bench in Thursday's loss to the University of Texas at San Antonio. He provided another boost in the first 90 seconds after halftime Saturday, with a pair of dunks that extended the Herd's lead to 46-39.

Kambola learned during Saturday morning's shootaround that he would start, and wanted to provide even more of a jolt as a starter than he did as a backup Thursday.

"I feel the more energy I show to the guys, the more confidence they start feeling in themselves," he said, "and I'll be there to help them out in the paint."

The first 90 seconds of the second half were a major swing from the first 90 seconds of the first half, when D'Antoni had to burn a time out to regroup the Herd. Marshall committed three turnovers in that time. The Herd also struggled down low defensively against Miners forward Cedric Lang, who had 10 points in the game's first seven minutes.

He scored only one point after that, though, as Marshall's post defense bounced back.

"They loaded up in the second half," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "When we looked out there in the first four minutes of the second half, they had five guys with their feet in the lane and it made it more difficult for us to go finish.

"We wanted to continue to throw it in there, and we did," he continued, "but as you saw, we had some turnovers throwing it out."

Taylor led all players with 10 rebounds. Omega Harris led UTEP with 18 points, while Julian Washburn dealt seven assists. Vince Hunter, the Miners' leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, scored just nine points and just two in the first half.

D'Antoni, who picked up his first conference win as Marshall's head coach, said his players earned that win with their refusal to fold following months of struggles. Marshall hadn't defeated a Division I foe since beating Savannah State on Nov. 16.

"The young men, who have been running into 'L' after 'L' after 'L,' to keep coming to practice, to keep trying to get better, working to find the 'W's, this was a real good reward for them. I'm happy for them. They deserve it. They've played very, very hard, not only this game, but they prepared themselves to win this game through a lot of snowy weather."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

Sissonville pulls away from Wheeling Central, 61-39 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129541 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150124/DM03/150129541 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 18:19:45 -0500 By Derek Taylor SISSONVILLE, W.Va. - Class AA No. 6 Sissonville took advantage of foul trouble that saddled Wheeling Central's top girls basketball player Saturday, and pulled away for a 61-39 win over the Class A No. 2 Maroon Knights on the strength of a 20-points showings by both Karli Pinkerton and Madison Jones.

Central junior point guard Lindsey Baker, who Sissonville coach Rich Skeen estimated handles the ball, "95 percent of the time," for the Knights, played just 5:19 of the second half after drawing her third foul with 6:25 left in the third quarter. With Baker spending considerable time on the bench throughout the game, the Indians' pressure defense feasted on Central's lesser-skilled ballhandlers and the Knights committed 21 turnovers in dropping to 13-2.

"She got into foul trouble. Madison does that to some people," Skeen said of Jones' ability to get Baker into trouble in both halves of the game.

"If you're not used to guarding that kind of speed it can be a problem," Skeen said. "Madison will draw a lot of fouls."

Jones sparked a Sissonville run in the first quarter that erased an early 8-2 deficit and gave the Indians a 16-10 lead entering the second quarter. The junior hit three conseuctive buckets as Sissonville's pressure began to force turnovers, and a 3-pointer by Mikayla Long with 2:18 left in the first put the Indians up 11-10, giving them a lead they never relinquished. Jones finished with 21 points and three assists.

Baker picked up her second foul with 3:17 left in the half, sending her to the bench. Sissonville (12-2) led 29-22 at the break.

"Having her out of the game kind of confuses us," Central coach Penn Kurtz said. "They did a great job of taking her out offensively. Jones, she's pretty quick, and they kept matching her up with Lindsey, but they did a great job with their pressure of getting us out of what we wanted to do."

The second half saw Sissonville junior guard Karli Pinkerton continue a hot shooting streak that she began in the second quarter. Pinkerton, who finished with a game-high 23 points and added a team-leading nine rebounds and three assists to her stat line, was 10-of-14 from the floor.

"We just picked it up this game and tried to play our hardest," Pinkerton said. "We knew how important a win was right here."

Central went on a mini-run to start the third quarter that pulled the Knights to within 29-26 of the lead when Regan Blaha hit a bucket with seven minutes left, but without Baker on the floor Central could get no closer.

"We just seemed to hit a wall," Kurtz said.

Skeen said he thought Central was more than a little tired by the time the second half unfolded. It was the Knights' third game in as many days and came after a win over Charleston Catholic on Friday night at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex.

"They're a good team, though, a real good team. I wouldn't be surprised to see them playing for a state championship in March at the state tournament," Skeen said. "Karli said it was a big win and an important win for us and it is, and that's why. We lost to Clay County last Saturday, and Central beat Clay, so that is a good confidence boost for us."

Central junior Cate Calissie led the Knights with 10 points. Baker finished with six. Maroon Knights senior Sydney Bennington led all players with 13 rebounds.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.


Wheeling Central (13-2)

Julianna Ryan 1-1 0-0 2, Riley Bennington 1-4 0-0 2, Sydney Bennington 1-11 3-4 5, Regan Blaha 6-14 0-0 12, Lindsey Baker 3-7 0-0 6, Cate Calisse 4-11 0-0 10, Taylor Duplaga 1-6 0-0 2, Jaela Manns 0-1 0-0 0, Madison Taylor 0-1 0-0 0, Nikki Nolte 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Lloyd 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 17-56 3-4 39.

Sissonville (12-2)

Regan Johnson 1-7 0-0 2, Ellie McClung 1-2 0-0 2, Brooke Reed 3-7 0-0 6, Karli Pinkerton 10-14 3-3 23, Madison Jones 7-22 5-7 21, Mikayla Long 2-3 1-2 7, Lexy Haynes 0-2 0-0 0, Brooklyn Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 24-57 9-12 61.

Wheeling Central 10 12 8 9 - 39

Sissonville 16 13 10 22 - 61

3-points goals: WC - Calisse 2; Sissonville - Jones 2, Long 2; Rebounds: WC 40 (S. Bennington 13), Sissonville 35 (Pinkerton 9, Reed 8); Assists; WC 7 (R. Bennington 2, Calisse 2), Sissonville 9 (Pinkerton 3, Jones 3); Steals: WC 4 (R. Bennington 3), Sissonville 9 (Jones 3); Blocks: WC 4 (S. Bennington 2), Sissonville 3 (Reed 3); Total fouls: WC 16, Sissonville 6; Fouled out: S. Bennington; Turnovers: WC 21, Sissonville 11.

TCU's Zeigler finally gets chance to visit WVU Coliseum http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129646 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129646 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:34:54 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Pardon Trey Zeigler for sounding overly ambitious, but the TCU guard has been looking forward to Saturday for a few years now and for two unusual reasons.

Zeigler played his first two college seasons for his father, Ernie, at Central Michigan. When Ernie was fired after the 2012 season, Zeigler transferred to Pitt and was eligible to play right away and would have been a part of the Backyard Brawl had it not come to an end the year before.

"I missed out on it, but I heard all the stories about the rivalry and their arena," Zeigler said. "I was kind of upset I never got to be a part of that."

The Pitt-WVU series stopped after the 2011-12 season as the Panthers moved to the ACC and WVU headed to the Big 12. Zeigler's lone season with the Panthers was the first without a game between the two schools since 1918. Zeigler nevertheless gets to play in the Coliseum on Saturday when the Horned Frogs (14-4, 1-4 Big 12) play the 18th-ranked Mountaineers (15-3, 3-2) at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.

The game is sold out.

"I've heard about the place basically through my teammates at Pitt once I got there," Zeigler said. "They used to talk about how rough the crowds were at West Virginia during the rivalry and how big those games were. I didn't get to play them, but we were hoping maybe we'd get a non-conference game with West Virginia, but it never happened that way when I was there."

A fifth-year senior who sat out last season, Zeigler has added inspiration for his one time in the building. He wants to play against WVU's Juwan Staten, the conference's preseason player of the year who was sick and didn't play when the Mountaineers won at TCU earlier this month.

Zeigler's not looking forward to this because he wants to prove himself against the league's fourth-leading scorer or because he's determined to extend Staten's scoring slump.

"I know Juwan pretty well," the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Zeigler said. "We used to play against each other on the AAU circuit when we were in high school and we've maintained contact through social networks and such."

Zeigler knows what others were reminded of last season, when Staten led the Big 12 in scoring and assists after playing one season at Dayton, transferring to WVU, sitting out one season and then averaging 7.6 points and shooting 37.6 percent in the 2012-13 season.

"He was great in high school," Zeigler remembered.

So was Zeigler, a consensus top-30 recruit the same year Staten was leading Virginia's Oak Hill Academy to a No. 7 national ranking in USA Today. Zeigler knew Staten to be an aggressive offensive player who would surprise opponents with his explosiveness off the dribble or off the floor.

He saw Staten do things most other point guards could not, which meant he was one of those expecting the surge Staten made as a junior.

"I wasn't surprised at all by what he did last year," Zeigler said. "I always knew he was a good player when he was given the opportunity to showcase that talent. He got that at West Virginia. They trusted him and I think he definitely made the most of it."

Zeigler came to TCU with nearly 1,150 points and 450 rebounds in his college career. He's started all 18 games for is TCU, which was off to a school-record 13-0 start before losing to WVU and has only beaten Texas Tech since then. He's second on the team in minutes (25.2), points (8.6) and assists (2.3) per game.

"What makes him unique is his size and his ability to score the ball at his size," said point guard Kyan Anderson, who leads the team with 13.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. "He finds ways to get his body into the paint and to create shots for himself, but he's also hungry on the defensive end. He can use his size to bother guys, but he can run with other guards who are smaller than him."

Staten, meanwhile, has just seven points on 2-for-16 shooting the past two games. It's his worst two-game stretch since the final four games of the 2013 season, when he totaled seven points on 3 of 10 shooting as WVU yawned toward the end of a 13-19 season with seven straight losses.

"He hasn't made a shot," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "Physically, he's fine."

Slowed by an ankle injury before the season and then by the flu for WVU's two-game road trip against TCU and Texas Tech, Staten scored 23 points on 7-for-17 shooting in the loss to Iowa State, but started 0 for 8 in the win against Oklahoma and 0 for 6 in the loss to Texas. Staten played just 25 minutes against the Longhorns and their 2-3 zone and didn't have an assist for the first time in 66 games.

"I think Wanny didn't really take a lot of rhythm shots," WVU forward Devin Williams said after the game. "Wanny's a rhythm player. I think Wanny was really flat-footed. That's probably the first time I've ever seen that in him. Wanny was just flat-footed and wasn't in a rhythm."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

UC men survive against Mazyck, State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129648 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129648 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:33:30 -0500 By Rich Stevens CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The University of Charleston men's basketball team beat West Virginia State at its own game in the first half in a Mountain East Conference matchup at the Walker Convocation Center on Thursday night.

Then, the Golden Eagles survived a career night from State's Markee Mazyck with a balanced offensive effort.

The result was the Golden Eagles' 72nd victory in the 121st meeting in the series, 82-70 in front of an announced crowd of 811.

Charleston (13-4, 8-3 MEC) hit 10 3-pointers in the first half to take an eight-point lead. Coach Dwaine Osborne's team finished with 14 3-pointers - two short of the single-game school record.

"We have issues," said Osborne, seemingly ever the pessimist despite his team's fifth consecutive win and ninth victory in the last 10 games. "I think some of our problem is early in the year I was on the guys about not shooting 3s and they took it as, 'Hey, you can't shoot.' So, just me being dumb, I had to go back and fix that. I said you can shoot it, just don't stand out there and jack it. There's a fine line you have to walk."

Half of Charleston's 64 attempts were 3-pointers, giving them 52 makes in the last five games in 125 tries for 45.2 percent.

Their biggest nemesis was Mazyck, a junior transfer who scored more than 2,000 points in high school and averaged 23 points per game two seasons ago at Frederick Community College.

His 34 points for State (3-15, 3-9) were the most Mazyck has scored in his ninth NCAA contest after spending his first two collegiate seasons in junior college.

"It was like the first five minutes you figured out that this guy here is trying to get buckets," UC guard Vincent Dillard said of Mazyck, who was 5-8 from the floor in the first half and had 15 of State's 36 halftime points. "We had to really help side. I think a lot of our guys stepped up to stop him. It took a team effort. He's a great player."

However, State trailed by just three with 6:03 remaining when Mazyck picked up his fourth foul on a Chris Evans 3-point attempt. Evans, who led four double-digit scorers with 19 points, hit all three free throws to start a 10-0 run and State couldn't recover.

Mazyck scored just two more points after going to the bench for 43 seconds.

"We just made a couple, you know, unforced, somewhat, errors," State coach Bryan Poore said. "When we get in that stretch, we have to learn how to make the correct play and the good play and we haven't learned how to do that right. And, find the right guy, which tonight, obviously, was Markee."

Mazyck his 13 of his 19 attempts, four of his seven 3-point tries and 4 of 6 free throws and added six rebounds.

"I don't really think it was at a point where I had to shoot and score," Mazyck said. "My teammates put me in a position to score, the point guards did a great job of running the sets the coach was calling. That's all it was. It wasn't just come down and shoot the ball."

UC's ally was balance, getting double-digit scoring from Evans, Dillard (18), Jevonte Hughes (15) and Octavius Green (13). Dillard was 4-5 from 3-point range and added five rebounds.

"We do a lot of shooting drills and it's just guys gaining confidence in themselves," said Dillard, a senior transfer from Texas-Arlington. "West Virginia State was hitting big, so we came back at them."

The victory was UC's fifth in the last six meetings between the teams. The Golden Eagles face a 5 p.m. Saturday showdown with Fairmont State at Eddie King Gym. The teams are tied for third in the MEC with 8-3 marks.

State, which has lost 10 of its last 12 games, hosts Shepherd at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail.

UC women survive scare from rival W.Va. State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129650 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129650 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:29:53 -0500 By Rich Stevens CHARLESTON, W.Va. - University of Charleston sophomore forward Monet Saunders overpowered the post players for the West Virginia State women's basketball team in the second half on Thursday night at the Walker Convocation Center.

The Golden Eagles survived a Mountain East Conference scare from their Kanawha County rivals as a result.

Saunders hit a 20-footer from just inside the top of the key then added a putback one possession later as UC (13-4, 8-3 MEC) pulled away for a 65-56 win over the Yellow Jackets (3-15, 3-7) in the first of two regular-season meetings between the schools. They meet in the regular-season finale at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Eddie King Gym in Charleston.

The game was tied at 47-47 when coach Adam Collins' Golden Eagles scored 10 of the next 12 points. State cut the lead to 60-54 with a chance to trim it to four with 30 seconds left, but couldn't connect on an offensive rebound.

The 6-foot-1 Saunders finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and three assists for the Golden Eagles, who badly needed a spark after a lackluster first 30 minutes.

"We cause people to play longer on offense because of our defense," said Collins, whose team forced one shot-clock violation and several State possessions to the final seconds of the clock. "I think sometimes the game gets slowed down and we're doing it to ourselves on defense."

Seven of Saunders' 14 rebounds came on the offensive end, helping UC to own a 16-4 advantage in second-chance points, making the difference in the game.

The Golden Eagles were helped by their only 3-pointer of the contest - from Deja Gibson - with 7:05 left for a 47-45 lead. Charleston came into the game third in the MEC in 3-point shooting percentage (.358), but was only 1-11. LeAnne Ross, who needed just 16 points to reach 1,000 for her career, finished with four. Also her team's leading 3-point shooter with 42, Ross was 0-5 from the arc.

State coach David Smith was pleased with his team's effort, for the most part. State had one more turnover and three more steals than UC. Still, he said, there's room for improvement.

"We just have to get better," Smith said. "I felt like we competed. I felt like, right up until with six minutes or so to go we were tied or somewhere in there, then all of a sudden they hit their one 3 they made for the game, made a couple free throws, we missed a couple of shots and then you're down and there's not much time to catch up."

The teams were tied with 13 rebounds each at halftime but the Golden Eagles, behind Saunders and Kiara Johnson (9 boards), outrebounded State 32-19 in the second half.

Gibson had 13 points for Charleston while Perry, who reached the 1,000-point mark for her career against Concord on Jan. 8, added 12 points.

State was led by Alexus Hobbs with 14 points and Aurreshae Hines finished with 12. Sophomore Shealyn Shafer had 12 rebounds, eight more than the next-closest teammate Hobbs, who had four.

Both teams return to action on Saturday with UC playing host to Fairmont at 3 p.m. and State facing Shepherd at 2 p.m. in Institute.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail

Slow start dooms Marshall hoops against UTSA http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129651 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129651 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:25:05 -0500 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The worst shooting team in Conference USA men's basketball staged a renaissance in the second half of its game Thursday night.

Yet that hot streak wasn't enough for Marshall to overcome its stone-cold start, and the Thundering Herd lost its ninth straight game and 15th in its last 16 with an 82-68 setback to UTSA at the Henderson Center.

Marshall (4-15, 0-6 C-USA) shot a robust 51.6 percent from the floor in the second half (16-for-31) after making just 8 of 32 first-half attempts (25 percent). That allowed the Herd to cut what was a 24-point UTSA lead to just five with 2:29 left in the game. Sophomore Austin Loop was fouled on a layup, made the basket, and cashed in on the ensuing free throw.

But a quick 7-2 run by the Roadrunners (9-8, 3-3 C-USA) allowed UTSA to keep Marshall at arm's length. Ryan Taylor scored 21 points for Marshall, but it wasn't enough to overcome UTSA senior Jeromie Hill's career-high 36.

And it left Marshall coach Dan D'Antoni frustrated yet again over the peaks and valleys of his team's intensity.

"I don't even know where to begin," he said. "We just came out the first part of the game and did not do ... we didn't play basketball at the intensity and the aggressive level that you have to play to win a Division I game.

"If we start a game out the way it should have been started, then we probably would have to see the results that we got."

The Herd has not beaten a Division I opponent since a Nov. 16 win over Savannah State.

Marshall started the game with a barrage of shots from its favorite spot, the 3-point line. No team in Conference USA has attempted more from beyond the arc than the Herd. But that spot didn't love Marshall back Thursday.

Seven of the Herd's first 10 shots came from 3-point range, and Marshall made just two of them. MU, who entered Thursday shooting a conference-low 37.8 percent from the floor, made just three of its first 20 shots and fell behind by double digits less than eight minutes into the game.

The Roadrunners' lead grew to as many as 21 in the first half, led by a red-hot performance from leading scorer Jeromie Hill. The senior from Carins, Australia scored 23 first-half points, having his way with Marshall's interior defense and adding a pair of 3-pointers. He matched the Herd's entire first-half output himself, as UTSA entered halftime with a 39-23 lead.

"I think he picked and chose his spots," UTSA coach Brooks Thompson said. "I think if you ask him and you ask me, he took four or five bad shots and he knew it. I think they were heat-check shots. Everything was going in for him, so you can't get too mad at him. I think he was really comfortable in the game, offensively."

Marshall climbed back into the game by finally putting together a streak of accuracy. J.P. Kambola's dunk with 13:29 left kickstarted a run where the Herd made 7 of 9 from the floor. The final basket of that stretch was Austin Loop's 3-pointer with 7:33 remaining. He was fouled on the shot and cashed in on the ensuing free throw to cut UTSA's lead to 58-51.

Taylor, who eclipsed the 20-point mark for the second straight game, said there was just more zip in the Herd's play in the second half.

"I thought our energy got us good shots and we started making them," Taylor said. "Then everybody on our team had energy, so if they had the open shot, they made it.

"Our energy picked our defense up and our defense picked our offense up and we started making shots and getting stops."

Loop and Justin Edmonds each added 12 points for Marshall, and Taylor led the Herd with 11 rebounds. Loop scored all his points in the second half, unable to even get a shot off in the first 20 minutes. Kaj-Bjorn Sherman scored 14 for the Roadrunners, making 10 of 11 free throws.

The Herd will get another shot to snap its losing streak at 3 p.m. Saturday, when Marshall hosts UTEP. For the losing to end, D'Antoni said, the players need to give full-time effort, that the spurts weren't enough.

"I told them that and I challenged them with that," he said. "You have to come every day and play hard. That allows me to coach. If you don't come out and put that competitive stuff out there, then I become a cheerleader, and I'm not any better than anyone else sitting in those stands.

"I know deep down that they're trying to figure it all out," D'Antoni added. "I'd like to come up with some diagram or something really smart and clever, but sometimes it's the fight in the dog."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

Chuck McGill: Herd woes continue, but process is the focus http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129652 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129652 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:23:24 -0500 By Chuck McGill HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Dan D'Antoni didn't channel Wile E. Coyote, but who would've blamed him?

The Roadrunners had Marshall so flummoxed, the Herd's first-year coach could've appeared defeated and held up a "Help?" sign during most of UTSA's 82-68 win Thursday night here at the Henderson Center.

D'Antoni didn't do that, of course, but he could sure use some help.

Thursday's loss to the San Antonio-based Roadrunners was Marshall's 15th consecutive defeat to a Division I men's basketball program. The Herd has trailed by double digits in 13 of those 15 losses, and by at least 20 points in six games during the streak.

That includes Thursday night, as UTSA built a lead as large as 24 points to extend the Herd's drought against D-I competition to 67 days. The last win: Nov. 16 against Savannah State.

Marshall is 4-15 overall and winless in six Conference USA games.

The Herd is dwelling in the cellar these days, but it shouldn't be a complete surprise.

MU athletic director Mike Hamrick, who hired the 67-year-old D'Antoni last April, understandably declined to evaluate his coach's performance during the season, but isn't deterred by what has transpired through 19 games.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult season," Hamrick said, "and with the difficult schedule we put together, it's probably one of the best from a competitive standpoint we've ever had. It was a perfect schedule for a fifth-year coach, but we knew we were young and inexperienced and had a new coach."

Hamrick can apply his hoops background to this situation. He has been around his share of successful coaches, like Larry Brown at Kansas, Wimp Sanderson at Arkansas-Little Rock and Lon Kruger at UNLV. Hamrick thinks D'Antoni can X and O with the best of them.

He's also witnessed a program rebuild right here in Huntington, after he hired Doc Holliday to turn around the Herd's football team in 2009. Holliday took over a program that had won 22 games in five seasons before his arrival. Marshall won 23 games the past two seasons under Holliday.

But in Holliday's first years on campus, the Herd sputtered and missed a bowl in two of his first three seasons. There was no reason to panic because Hamrick believed in the process, not necessarily the early returns.

"I saw the same thing in Doc's first couple of years," Hamrick said. "They just have to keep working at it and eventually it's going to happen."

There are glimmers of hope in an otherwise dreadful season. Marshall won Thursday's second half, 45-43, which is a trend of sorts. The Herd has won or tied 19 halves this season, while losing 19 of them. There is a balance there that suggests this team could or should be closer to .500 than its .211 winning percentage, but the lows have been lower than the highs have been high.

That could be seen against the Roadrunners, who led by 21 points in the first half and 24 points, 51-27, with 16:06 left of the game. From that point, Marshall outscored the visitors 24-7 over the next 8 minutes and 34 seconds. That run was capped by a four-point play by Austin Loop, who was fouled as he drained a 3-pointer from the left wing and bounced in the ensuing free throw.

UTSA's lead was extended to 13 points, 68-55, with 4:30 left, but a 10-2 run by the Herd trimmed the deficit to five points with 2:29 remaining. Loop was again at the center of that spurt, which included a five-point trip down the floor (two technical free throws, plus a basket and a foul shot) to make it 70-65.

The Roadrunners controlled it from there, though, outscoring Marshall 12-3 to end the game and extend the Herd's woes.

"I don't even know where to begin," D'Antoni said to open his post-game press conference.

He then cited the team's youth. He lamented the team not applying enough pressure early. He said he'll remind his players they "have to play harder than every other team" because of the talent disparity.

"I know, deep down ... they're trying to figure it out," D'Antoni said.

Hamrick knows, deep down, that D'Antoni is trying to figure it out, too. The coach just needs some help.

"It's going to be a long, difficult process to get this basketball program where it needs to be," Hamrick said. "Danny is committed to doing it and I'm committed to doing it."

Hurricane boys knock off No. 1 South Charleston http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129653 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129653 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:20:59 -0500 By Chris Wade HURRICANE, W.Va. - South Charleston, the No. 1 Class AAA boys basketball team in the state, won its first 11 games and had not tasted defeat this season. Until Thursday.

Hurricane put a stop to that streak and possibly the Black Eagles' top spot in the rankings, beating SC 52-50 in Hurricane.

"I think maybe we felt like we were better than we are," SC coach Vic Herbert said. "You win a bunch in a row and you just think you are invincible. We found out tonight we aren't invincible.

"Hopefully it will get back their focus and attention," Herbert continued. "We got too happy and satisfied. This could be a wake up call for us."

Hurricane, meanwhile, improved to 7-5 on the season and have won five of its last six games.

"This was a big win for us and very huge," Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said. "We battled and scrapped. It was a game of punches. Whoever punched last won, and thank goodness it was us."

With the game tied at 49, Redskin standout J.T. Rogoszewski drove to the basket and hit what proved to be the game winning lay-up with 1:14 left in the game.

"Coach told me to take him because I had been able to get to the hoop all game," Rogoszewski said. "They told me if I saw an opening to take it. It felt great and was awesome."

On the next SC possession, the Black Eagles turned the ball over as Dylan Tinsley earned the steal. Having only committed two fouls at the time, a lot of time elapsed before the Redskins went into the bonus with 10.8 seconds left.

Tinsley went to the line for the one-and-one but missed the first shot. Hurricane center Noah Fenerty collected the offensive rebound and got the ball to Trey Dawson, who was fouled with 7.3 seconds left.

Dawson hit the first but missed the second one. Trailing by three points, SC standout Brandon Knapper raced up court and was fouled with just one tenth of a second left.

Knapper was just in front of the three-point line and awarded two foul shots. The junior made the first and missed the second intentionally but time ran off the clock and Hurricane escaped with the big win.

"They got the big rebounds when they needed to have them," Herbert said. "We didn't box out a couple times and they got some big rebounds. They got the ones when it counted and they outplayed us."

Hurricane committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, including four in the first few minutes as SC raced out to a 17-0 lead. However, the Redskins only had five the rest of the game, including one each in the third and fourth quarter.

"Normally, we don't turn it over much," Sutherland said. "The first two or three minutes we had our heads where it shouldnt have been. We answered and it shows we are growing."

Rogoszewski led Hurricane with 14 points while Brandon Ford and Dawson added 11 points each. Fenerty was big for the Redskins off the bench with nine points and seven rebounds.

For SC, Knapper scored a game-high 19 points, Shaiyan Mabry tallied 12 points and eight rebounds, and Kentre Grier contributed 10 points.

Renovation planned for Beckley soccer complex http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129654 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129654 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:17:34 -0500


The Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex in Beckley, home to the West Virginia high school state soccer tournament, will receive a face lift.

YMCA of Southern West Virginia CEO Jay Rist announced a $1 million renovation plan for the field a the complex, according to the Beckley Register-Herald. Crews plan to lay all-weather FieldTurf on one of the fields in mid-May after West Virginia State Cup games are played. The non-profit Cline Family Foundation has pleged to a 3-to-1 match on funds for the project.

The playing surfaces on both of the fields used for the state tournament came under fire during last November's games when both had problems with inclement weather and flooding, which resulted in muddy, wet conditions for the state semifinal and championship games.

"We are going to make it world-class," Rist said.

PREP ROUNDUP: GW boys top Princeton http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129656 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129656 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:14:49 -0500 FROM STAFF REPORTS

Freshman Justin Phillips scored 16 points and dished six assists to lead George Washington to an easy 64-26 win at Princeton in boys high school basketball play Thursday.

George Washington (9-3), which led by 16 points at the break, also received 10 points from Anthony Dean, while Jonah Cosby added nine rebounds.

"The kids played well tonight," said GW coach Rick Greene. "We got a lead and we kept playing. Overall it was a really nice game."

Princeton (4-7), which played without leading scorer Aaron Ferguson, was led by Logan McKinney's 11 points.

Cabell Midland 65, Nitro 63 - The Knights notched their first win of the season Thursday night, despite a 30-point effort from Nitro's Ian Lee. Corey Pettit lead all Cabell Midland scorers with 18 points, followed by Kirk Jennings and Mark Wilcox, each with 14. In addition to Lee's 30 points, the Wildcats' Neil Sallada added 19 in the loss.

Spring Valley 80, St. Albans 48 - The Timberwolves set the tone with an 18-8 first quarter and cruised to victory over winless St. Albans at Spring Valley Thursday night. Jacob Kilgore lead all Spring Valley scorers with 30, followed by Greg Herbert with 16. In the loss, Phillip Hall lead Red Dragon scorers with 13, with Jeffrey Seams adding 11.

In high school girls action:

Sissonville 50, Poca 31 - Madison Jones scored 19 points and Brooke Reed added 15 points and 14 rebounds and four blocks to help lead the Indians (11-2) at home.

For Poca (7-7), Casey Skeens and McKenzie Ball led the way with eight points apiece.

Elk Valley Christian 77, Buffalo 39 - Elk Valley Christian's Katie Burdette scored 23 to lift the Eagles over the winless Bison. Following Burdette at the top of the Eagle's stat sheet were Anna Oxley with 16 points and Hannah Williams with 13. Morgan Cobb lead Buffalo scorers with 11, followed by Whitney Seabolt and Olivia Dunn with 10 points each.

Four WVU football players cited for marijuana possession http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129703 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129703 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:17:27 -0500 By Mike Casazza Four freshman West Virginia football players were cited for marijuana possession Tuesday on campus.

Safety Dravon Henry, linebacker Xavier Preston, defensive lineman Jaleel Fields and offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste were cited at Lincoln Hall, where police entered a room and found marijuana. Each is subject to a pre-trial diversion program, and the charges can be dropped in six months if they meet the terms of the process.

"We are aware of the situation, and the matter will be handled internally," Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said in a statement. Henry started all 13 games at free safety and finished with 45 tackles and two interceptions, including one he returned 52 yards for a touchdown. He made ESPN.com's true freshman all-America team. Preston was a reserve linebacker who played in nine games on defense and special teams. Cajuste and Field both redshirted.

Jeff Gordon to retire as full-time driver after 2015 season http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129748 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150122/DM03/150129748 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:42:06 -0500 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon says he will retire as a full-time driver after 2015 season

The 43-year-old Gordon is coming off one of his best seasons in years. He won four times in 2014, including the Brickyard 400.

He says he's not officially calling it a retirement because there is "always the possibility I'll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that."

Gordon has 92 career Sprint Cup wins and championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001. He has spent his entire 23-year career in the No. 24 car with Hendrick Motorsports.

Gordon is third in career victories, trailing Hall of Fame drivers Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). He has three Daytona 500 victories and a record five Brickyard 400 wins.

Mike Casazza: New signing date will benefit recruiting http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129761 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129761 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:59:48 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - College football's national signing day is 13 days away, the latest edition of what's become something of a holiday for armchair recruitniks, hardcore fans of their favorite schools and critics of the recruiting efforts of the coaches on campus.

It might also be the last.

It seems more likely than not that beginning this year an early signing date in December will precede the first Wednesday in February. That date has become a made-for-TV event in with announcements reserved for television and programming devoted to evaluating a college program's performance recruiting kids with high school diplomas and associate degrees.

During last week's NCAA convention, a committee recommended a Dec. 16 date, the same as the junior college signing date. That's now in the hands of the College Commissioners Association, a collection of the 32 Division I commissioners who manage national letters of intent. They'll vote in June, and a lot of college coaches and administrators are pulling for it.

"I think it's functional, I think it's an appropriate date," said West Virginia's Ryan Dorchester, the director of player personnel who oversees recruiting. "It's what I always had in my head when I heard suggestions."

There had been a few other ideas. One was for an early signing period before the season in August and another was for a slightly earlier signing period just after Thanksgiving. Both, though, were met with resistance because coaches would be busy preparing and coaching their teams before and during the season.

The December date is one when teams aren't playing games and it falls during a contact period when coaches can meet with recruits and their parents, something that's increasingly useful because some schools are moving away from having recruits make official visits during a season. An early date before the season would probably necessitate changes to the official visit rules, which is more complicated than simply opening up a 72-hour signing window in December.

It also allows coaches to close cases seven weeks earlier than they would now, when the signings are pushed back while a list of variables can cause a recruit to change his mind and leave the school he deserted without many great options for replacing him.

"You don't have to spend all your time worrying about somebody coming in at the last possible minute and offering a kid because they missed on their guy and flipping a kid you've been working on for 12 months," Dorchester said. "That's a pretty big pain in the butt."

It happens a lot now, here and in many other places. It would happen less with an early signing day, and that's one of a few benefits for the coaches. The recently approved four-year scholarships and guarantees for the total cost of attendance are student-athlete welfare initiatives. An early signing date is good for the coaches.

Say a school plans to sign 25 players and 15 sign in the early period. Rather than spend the period between the end of the regular season and signing day working to keep all 25 in line, coaches instead worry about 10 - and truth be told, they can probably afford to look around a little more for kids who are wavering elsewhere or suddenly available.

But that's a lot less traveling for coaches. It's fewer days of seeing one prospect in the morning in Charlotte, one in the afternoon in Atlanta and one in the evening in Broward County. If the recruit in North Carolina and Florida signed in December, then the work that day goes to the player in Atlanta, but also to the future.

"I think some schools will save money, which matters, but it's not like people won't go out and recruit," Dorchester said. "But coaches are not going to want to get on planes if they don't have to. If they go on a home visit with a kid you're targeting and the kid's a senior, maybe you spend that night with him and spend the morning checking in on a bunch of juniors in the area."

With that in mind, there's a small change that ought to accompany the large one. The spring evaluation period lets coaches visit a school, check on grades, watch a track meet or a spring football practice and not much else. There can be no contact. Dorchester believes the evaluation period could be redefined.

"I think that could be changed to where you can have contact with rising juniors at that time," Dorchester said. "It could be something as simple as, 'Hey, you can talk to underclassmen just on campus.' I think that would be good and I think that would be something coaches would welcome."

Of course, an early signing period challenges schools, too, and WVU has been pretty particular in the past few years about academic certainties. If the Mountaineers are to remain purposefully picky and make sure kids they sign can enroll, they have to make the call weeks earlier now. Someone iffy who WVU declines in December could be safe in February.

But it might also help, too. Suppose a star cornerback has qualification questions. WVU can still sign him in December and steer him to specific core classes, ways to beef up the GPA and strategies to improve an SAT or ACT score during the spring so that he's eligible to enroll in the summer. That already happens now, except that a kid can take WVU's advice and improve his chances and then sign somewhere else.

That's not good for a coach's welfare, either.

Marshall tries to snap slump against UTSA http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129763 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129763 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:54:42 -0500 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Mired in an eight-game losing streak and still searching for a Conference USA win, Marshall men's basketball coach Dan D'Antoni is trying to keep his Thundering Herd's spirits up heading into the weekend. In attempting to snap Marshall's doldrums, is D'Antoni singing different versions of the same song?

"I don't even know if it's different versions," D'Antoni said. "It's singing the song again."

The refrain may be familiar, but the first-year coach feels it's important. He thinks the Herd is on the cusp of a breakthrough, but it still must take those last few steps to get there, a mission that continues at 7 p.m. Thursday when Marshall hosts UTSA.

"You watch their practices, they're lively," D'Antoni said. "They're still very spirited. They're still with themselves. They can see it. When we watch on tape, they can see how close we are. We're in every game, every game, and have a chance. And if we can just extend our play a little bit ... they see their mistakes and they understand that the coaching staff's with them.

"They're good guys, they're playing hard and they're working," he added. "So it's the same old song. We have to play a little smarter and keep extending our game so we don't have the letdown at critical times that either lets the team back in when we should have put them away, or don't finish one off."

The Herd (4-14, 0-5 C-USA) twice suffered those letdowns last weekend in Florida. Marshall led by as many as 18 over Florida International before falling 66-62 in overtime. Then the Herd led Florida Atlantic by 11, but the Owls dominated the game's home stretch and Marshall fell 76-62, the Herd's 14th loss in its last 15 games.

Sophomore forward Ryan Taylor sees it on film, too, both the good things that allow Marshall to stake those leads and what he calls the "bonehead plays" that erase those leads and send the Herd off the court disappointed again.

"I think if we cut out just a few things we do - in the beginning of the game, the middle of the game or the end of the game - we can win," Taylor said. "I know everybody on the team is hungry for that first conference win and to break that losing streak."

Racking up a couple of conference wins became even more crucial Tuesday night, when Southern Mississippi announced it would impose on itself a postseason ban for 2014-15. The Golden Eagles men's basketball team is currently under investigation regarding how tuition and other expenses were paid for recruits who signed with USM but weren't yet eligible for scholarships.

That postseason ban includes the Conference USA Tournament. Twelve of the conference's 14 teams make the conference tournament and, with Southern Miss out of the way, Marshall needs to be ahead of just one eligible team to make it to Birmingham, Ala. Southern Miss is winless in conference as well. Marshall sits one win behind FAU and North Texas, and two wins behind FIU, UTSA, Charlotte and Rice.

The Roadrunners (8-8, 2-3) had won three of four games before falling to UTEP - Marshall's Saturday opponent - on Jan. 17. UTSA shot just 38.5 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range against the Miners.

Senior forward Jeromie Hill leads the Roadrunners in points and is tied for the lead in rebounds the 6-foot-8 post player averages 15.5 points per game and both he and senior center Kaj-Bjorn Sherman average 6.9 rebounds per game.

D'Antoni still has a spot in the conference tournament as one of the Herd's goals, so he hasn't given up on the season, especially when he sees his team's desire to get it right.

"To be quite honest with you, when I watch it, I almost cry for them," he said, "because I can see how they're wanting it. I can see how good they play when they can do it right. When they just kind of fall on themselves, it's not intentional. It's just that they haven't had any experience on this team - anybody that's played here - to win on this level.

"We're still searching for that continual play where we don't make those mistakes that just bury us," he added.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

Parkersburg girls win at Winfield http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129764 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129764 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:52:58 -0500 By Derek Taylor WINFIELD, W.Va - Parkersburg used an 11-0 run to close the first quarter and open the second Wednesday then held on during an off-kilter display of girls basketball that saw four Winfield players foul out and a total of 37 turnovers committed to get a 62-49 win over the Generals.

With no junior varsity game leading into the varsity tip at 7:30 p.m. and virtually no crowd on hand at Winfield High to watch the game, Parkersburg players said they had a difficult time getting into any kind of rhythm in improving to 7-4 on the season. Winfield fell to 3-9.

"You're not jumping, you're not excited, you're just kind of lackadaisical," Parkersburg junior guard and former St. Albans standout and 2014 All-Kanawha Valley selection Torri Wilson said after she grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds to go with team highs with four assists and three steals.

Wilson finished with eight points.

"A win is a win, now just get me out of leprechaun land," Wilson said in reference to the abundance of green seats still visible throughout the game.

Parkersburg was playing without starting forward Alison Schumacher, which forced the Big Reds point guard to assert herself more in the paint.

"They've been harping on us to box out a lot more, so I think they're getting into our head that we need to hustle more," Wilson said.

Winfield turned the ball over 16 times in the first half and Parkersburg led 31-24 at halftime. But Generals senior point guard Haylea Roberson had yet to get in a scoring groove. She hit stride in the third quarter, and brought Winfield to within 36-32 of the lead with 2:50 remaining in the quarter with a pair of free throws. Although Parkersburg never did get its offense in full gear, it was as close as the Generals would get.

Big Reds center Susanne Oplinger scored to push the lead to 38-32 and then Wilson found Parkersburg's leading scorer, junior small forward Brooke Kurucz, with a sharp pass Kurucz converted into two of her team-high 19 points to push the lead back to eight points and force a timeout from Winfield first-year coach Charles Slater.

"We played pretty well to our capabilities," Slater said. "Obviously, we don't have many bench players or depth, so to speak. A lot of people may not see it but I see a lot of improvement in our team from November to now."

Fouls began to pile up for Winfield early in the fourth quarter, and the Generals finished the game with all five remaining players on their roster on the floor. Roberson avoided the carnage, and led all players with 24 points while adding seven rebounds, four steals and a blocked shot to her stat line.

Kurucz said that while the Big Reds didn't play up to expectations offensively, their defense got them the win.

"We just seemed flat," Kurucz said. "We didn't come out with much energy. We didn't move around as much as we should have and our shots weren't falling. I thought we played some good defense, though."

Parkersburg shot 30 percent (20 of 66) from the floor but finished with 11 steals and limited the rest of the Winfield lineup besides Roberson to a 10-of-31 shooting (32.2 percent) night, underscoring the importance of the team's high number of turnovers. Sophomore center Rachel Krashnewski was solid throughout the game, however, finishing with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds before fouling out late in the game.

"It just came down to execution and not turning the ball over," Parkersburg coach Kenny DeMoss said. "We knew (Roberson) was their scorer and she banked in a 3 but we put good pressure on them."

Parkersburg junior Kam Snyder also finished in double figures for the Big Reds, scoring 17 points to go with seven rebounds and three steals.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.

Rich Stevens: I'm glad I could call Josh Myers a friend http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129766 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129766 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:50:54 -0500 By Rich Stevens CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In the fall of 2011, I spent many days in the 11th-grade classroom at South Charleston High School completing my second clinical while attempting to earn my teaching certificate.

When you spend a couple weeks in a class, there's not much time to gain a teacher-student relationship. I helped students with homework, took over the class for a few days and did general busy work while my supervising teacher, Kim Hundley, did most of the instruction.

There was one student, however, that stood out.

He was short, with well-coiffed, dark blond hair and an infectious smile. It was Josh Myers.

He seemed to have a permanent grin, almost like he was up to something. Just looking at the profile photo on his mother's Facebook page will bring a smile to your face.

Josh was a golfer and baseball player, which are two of my primary responsibilities at the Daily Mail, but this wasn't an athlete-sportswriter relationship, although that made for good conversation.

Naturally, having something in common, we talked about sports until our meetings morphed into general every day gibberish. There was a camaraderie between Josh and I that went beyond the student teacher-student or sportswriter-athlete relationship.

Many memories flooded my head when I got word that Josh passed away Wednesday afternoon in the intensive care unit of Cabell-Huntington Hospital. He fell ill last Thursday at the Dunbar Community Center while playing basketball with friends. Sadly, he went into a coma and didn't recover.

In my 25 years as a sportswriter, I've gotten to know thousands of athletes, but only a handful really stuck with me.

Josh was friendly in conversation because that's the way he was, not the way he was programmed as an athlete.

He really stuck with me.

Maybe it was his happy-go-lucky attitude. Maybe it was the way he treated people. There was just his positive vibe that attracted people to him.

A day didn't pass at South Charleston High when he didn't smile and say 'hello' or we wouldn't have a conversation about nothing in particular.

I'd see him on the golf course and we'd wave across a fairway. He wasn't unlike other golfers: no matter how well he was playing, he'd say he was having a bad day. He certainly never looked like he had a bad day.

Occasionally, I would rib him about his game. By his own admission, he needed improvement on the golf course, and he'd tell you so, but what he didn't do was get angry, curse at his clubs or take the game too seriously.

Oh, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to give him a hard time about not spending more time on the golf course because I wanted to see him compete at the state tournament.

Josh would tell me, 'I know, I need to play more.' He wasn't caught up in the game enough to stress about it. He played for the love and the fellowship of his teammates.

He shot a 36 and made All-County at the Kanawha County Golf Championships at Shawnee Park in 2013. His 83 was second-best for the Black Eagles the same year at Berry Hills in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championships. In October of 2013 at Berry Hills Country Club in his final opportunity to earn a spot at the state tournament, his 96 fell far short of the score he would need to qualify.

As a junior, he had the game-winning hit in a marathon baseball contest against Parkersburg.

I haven't seen or talked with Josh since the 2013 Class AAA regional golf tournament at Berry Hills Country Club.

I met his mother that day and, on Wednesday, sent her my condolences on Facebook. She wrote back: 'Josh loved u.'

I almost came to tears when I read her message because, quite frankly, I loved the kid too.

He had tons of friends, as is evidenced by the messages to his family on social media.

It's not hard to figure out why.

I feel privileged to be included in that group.

Rest in peace, my friend.

PREP ROUNDUP: Shamblin leads Nitro girls past Woodrow http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129767 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150121/DM03/150129767 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:49:15 -0500


CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Savannah Shamblin continued to have a hot hand by scoring a game-high 36 points to lead Nitro (7-5) to a tough 61-58 win over Woodrow Wilson (2-10) in girls high school basketball play Wednesday.

It was Shamblin's third straight contest with at least 30 points, having tallied 33 and 34 points in the Wildcats' previous two outings.

Torri Porterfield added 16 points for Nitro.

For Woodrow (2-10), Aaliyah Williams scored 15 points, while Kaliyah Creasey and Paige Lewis added 11 points apiece.

St. Albans 53, Priceton 40 - Senior Breanna Propst scored 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Red Dragons (9-4) at home. Cameron Davis chipped in with 13 points for SA.

For Princeton (2-11), Jaine West netted 23 points.