By DAVE MORRISON
MOUNDSVILLE - There aren't any beaches near Moundsville, or any real sand bars along that stretch of the Ohio River, but you can't blame John Marshall if it was seeing waves Friday night.
John Marshall’s Tanner Filben (10) tries to dribble around the defense of Morgantown’s Antonio Morgano (11).
These waves weren't rolling in from any body of water, but the bodies of suddenly resurgent Morgantown.
The visiting Mohigans created 35 turnovers, 20 of those steals and seemed to be everywhere, mostly in Monarchs passing lanes, in a 79-45 victory against John Marshall.
At times it looked like a pregame lay-up drill.
"We came in with the idea that we were going to be relentless on defense and we were going to bring it in different waves," acting coach Denny Crouso said. "We never really got to the full-court press. I thought our 1-3-1 gave them a lot of problems."
It wasn't a surprise, John Marshall coach Bill Storm said.
"It really did give us problems but I don't know why," Storm said. "We were ready for it, we worked on it. We just don't have a lot of confidence in our ball-handling right now. They had 20 steals. We had some passes I still can't believe. It was almost like we were throwing the ball right to them at times in the first half. Give them some credit, they took advantage of it."
Crouso was subbing for Tom Yester, the long-time Morgantown head coach, who was suspended for four games for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Monongalia County School Superintendent Frank Devono would not comment on the issue earlier in the day, telling MetroNews it was " a personnel matter."
"We miss Coach Yester, but the official word is he was suspended for four games, so he will be back in three," Crouso said. "I really can't say any more than that."
His team's play spoke loudly enough, at least of what Morgantown is capable of on the court.
Steven Solomon led the Mohigans with 14 points, many off steals and the subsequent lay-up drill basket, and Scottie Core added 12. In all, 13 of the 14 Mohigans who dressed for the game scored.
"We play a lot of players anyway," Crouso said. "I think depth is our best quality. We kept bringing pressure and we were able to really use that to our advantage tonight."
Time and time again the Mohigans caused steals in the backcourt which led to runouts or easy uncontested layups.
It started early and continued throughout the game, as the Mohigans outscored the Monarchs in every quarter. The Mohigans had a safe 42-17 lead at the half.
"We are a young team, and right now we are weak physically and we are not strong with the ball," Storm said. "Tanner (Fliben) is playing point guard right now, mainly by default. He is a two guard, that's where he started the last two years. He's trying hard and doing a good job. The other guys are struggling right now with handling the basketball. I have a great bunch of kids, but right now we are struggling when we get in situations where teams press and that is what happened (Friday)."
Josh Smith gave John Marshall (3-8) a bit of a lift in the second half, when he scored all 10 of his team-high points. Filben and Hunter Sadoski followed with nine each for the Monarchs.
"I thought coach Crouso did a great job with his team stepping in for Tom," Storm said. "And let me say this. I have known Tom Yester for a long time. I would bet the house that he didn't do anything (to deserve the suspension). "