The Yellow Jackets defied expectations all season and came soaring into Clarksburg before being floored by Irish sharpshooters nailing 16 perimeter shots as Notre Dame’s luck reigned supreme with an 85-42 victory in the Class A Region II Co-Championship earning a state tournament berth last Wednesday.
“We built a culture here, we built a tradition here. We expect to be there every year. Coming into this year with ten sophomores and three juniors, not much varsity experience we got off to kind of a rough spot early which was logical with our schedule. To be honest the way we played in the first two games of the section, I was kind of nervous. Tonight we came out and we were on fire. If we shoot the ball the way we did tonight, obviously we are a good team. We played our best game as far as it pertains to shooting on offense, so it is three down. I coach for two reasons, to mentor these young men and to speak God to their lives and try to win state championships,” Notre Dame coach Jarrod West commented.
“This is the best atmosphere in West Virginia high school basketball and for the kids to go down and enjoy the atmosphere in Charleston is great. Our culture has grown and we used to be happy just to go there. Now we have expectations and there’s a stress factor there. We speak God into these kids lives. We pray every day and I make sure a different kid prays each time. Basketball is important, but life lessons and God that’s why I am here. We take that very serious. I am a strong believer and I don’t know if he favors sports, but I believe that he is rooting for us. Believing in faith is all important and that is our focus.”
Jaidyn West led the barrage of 3-pointers with seven and finished with a game-high 25 points lifting the Irish to the title.
Both teams missed opening attempts with defensive rebounds collected by Moorefield’s Chase Vance and Notre Dame’s Clay Martino.
A perimeter basket by West gave Notre Dame the initial lead at the 6:57 mark.
The Yellow Jackets answered with a spinning jumper by Vance only 14 seconds later.
Notre Dame marched forward with an 11-nil run and closed out the first period with a 29-11 advantage.
The Irish extended the lead with West’s second trey at the 6:20 mark.
Notre Dame’s Elijah Goodman knocked the ball loose for a turnover and the ricochet was scooped up by Martino, but the Irish fumbled the ball out of play before gaining possession again on a steal by Wade Britton resulting in his own field goal.
Moorefield hit the rim and Notre Dame’s Martino grabbed the carom, then Britton snatched an offensive rebound and passed to Goodman for a layup at the 5:13 mark, 10-2.
West collected a defensive board and the ensuing shot was blocked by Moorefield’s Jaydon See with Goodman fielding the ricochet and notching the bucket.
Martino swiped the ball and scored at the 4:00 mark to put the Irish up 14-2.
The Yellow Jackets found the hoop with a 3-pointer by Thomas Williams with 3:41 remaining in the opening frame, 14-5.
“That’s why you play to be in a regional final and get a chance to go to the state tournament. I give credit to Notre Dame, they shot the lights out. We didn’t have an answer for it and every kid on the floor could shoot. It was a tough match-up for us. We preached to them this week to just go out there and leave everything on the floor. Whatever happens, happens. I am really going to miss those seniors, they have been a huge part of this and a huge part of our program for four years. It’s sad to see them go,” Moorefield coach Scott Stutler remarked.
Goodman netted a pair of free throws on the next Notre Dame possession.
Moorefield came back with another 3-pointer by Williams off an assist from Vance at the 3:18 mark, 16-8.
Vance was trying to haul in a rebound, but Britton ripped it way and scored for the Irish.
The Yellow Jackets committed an over-and-back turnover at mid-court, then Notre Dame tossed the ball out of bounds prior to a steal by West to setup a 3-pointer by Clay Martino at the 2:10 mark, 21-8.
Moorefield lost the ball out of play, then Goodman drilled a 3-pointer at 1:38.
See collected an offensive rebound, but the ball was stolen by Goodman and Kobe Martino knocked down a perimeter shot giving the Irish a 27-8 lead with 52 seconds left in the first period.
Vance executed an old-fashioned three-point play on the following Yellow Jackets possession, but the Irish got two of the points back on free throws by West before both teams missed shots to close the quarter with Notre Dame ahead 29-11.
West commandeered a defensive board to commence the second period and drained a trifecta at the 7:34 mark.
“It was big, because our crowd got engaged early. We had a nice crowd tonight. Whenever they are with us, it really helps our play. Everything is through God, we wouldn’t be able to do this without Him. We teach that in practice everyday, everything we do, we do through Him. Moorefield played good team defense, so when I attacked a gap they were pinching and I was passing out to open shooters. There were times when I felt I could take my shot and I did. I have been with these guys since pre-school, so to make it to state with this team is really special,” Notre Dame sophomore guard Jaidyn West stated.
There were two missed field goals in both directions sandwiching steals by West and Moorefield’s Coleman Mongold with Brent Moran over a two-minute span before Goodman broke the drought with a layup for a 34-11 score.
Notre Dame’s Dan Zummo stole the ball, but it was swiped back by Moorefield’s Ryan McGregor.
After a block by Britton on Mongold, Vance recovered the ball and scored at 5:13, 34-13.
Zummo sandwiched two Irish 3-pointers around a putback by Vance within 35 seconds to build a 40-15 advantage at the 4:12 mark.
The next two field goals belonged to the Yellow Jackets as Vance and Levi Thompson created points in the paint.
Thompson blocked a shot by West with Vance making the recovery and scoring moments later as Moorefield cut the deficit to 40-21 with 3:06 left in the second period.
West nailed a 3-pointer on the ensuing Notre Dame possession, then the Yellow Jackets missed three consecutive shots despite rebounds by Vance and Thompson with latter going to Britton.
Moorefield’s Lane Ours deflected the pass, but Britton made the save with the ball being tossed away moments later.
“This has been one of the best experiences in my entire life and my greatest accomplishment. I wanted to go here and my dad went here. It is just great sense of pride and blue and gold has been my life. This is most special moment I’ve had, besides state championships in baseball. We haven’t been here in six years and since freshman year, our coaches have been telling us we would get here. We just kept getting better and better every year. That’s what we did,” Moorefield senior Lane Ours noted.
West hauled in a defensive carom, then Britton scored on a putback as the Irish went up 45-21 at 1:57.
See grabbed a board and passed to Mongold for a basket at 1:37 as the Yellow Jackets kept fighting.
After an offensive foul, Mongold scored on a jumper at 1:04 to make it 45-25.
West added two foul shots for the Irish, then Vance answered with a bucket in the lane.
In the waning seconds of the first half, West knocked down a 3-pointer pushing the Notre Dame lead to 50-27 at the intermission.
The Irish went on an 11-0 run to begin the third period in a span of two minutes and 15 seconds.
Britton notched a free throw and a field goal in the opening minute, then Clay Martino notched a layup and West crushed a pair of 3-pointers within 30 seconds for a 61-27 lead at the 5:45 mark.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets hit the rim three times during that stretch.
West blocked an attempt by Williams and Vance fielded the ricochet, but the ensuing shot drew iron and Goodman collected the board.
Vance snatched a defensive rebound and netted a jumper at 4:51 as Moorefield trailed 61-29.
“I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else. This is the best school in the world, in my opinion and I’ve never played at another school. It’s amazing here and the coaches are amazing and the people are amazing and the teachers. Everyone is amazing. I wouldn’t rather play anywhere else. We’ve played together for a long time and always dreamed of coming here. We hoped to get to state, but we didn’t make it. It means everything to us to get this far,” Moorefield senior Chase Vance noted.
Vance made a steal, then scrambled for a loose ball with the roll going to See and the Yellow Jackets came up empty.
Britton notched a putback for the Irish on the following series at 3:50.
There was no scoring for about two minutes as Moorefield missed four field goals and Notre Dame’s Clay Martino made two steals with the latter resulting in a layup by DreMir Hawswater.
Hawswater swiped the ball and the Irish hit the rim, then Moorefield’s Yosef Malaki made the rebound.
Kobe Martino stole the ball and West assisted Zummo on a perimeter basket with one minute left in the third period to extend the Irish lead to 68-29 which stood entering the final stanza.
“It’s been fun to be a Yellow Jacket. This is like a family to me. This has helped me to be a successful man and I owe a lot to my teammates and coaches. It has been fun and I am going to miss it a lot. It was very special to be here in the championship, because we haven’t been here in a long time and it is very important,” Moorefield senior Yosef Malaki commented.
The Yellow Jackets started the fourth period with Williams drilling a 3-pointer at the 7:48 mark.
“This is just a special year for me. I hate that it had to end like this here. You go out from a hometown and play my heart out for my team. We played against a good team today. To get this far is just great and that’s why I started playing and why I love this sport,” Moorefield senior Thomas Williams added.
After a walk by Notre Dame, Mongold hit a jumper for a 68-34 score at 7:05.
There were a couple of fouls by Moorefield prior to Notre Dame’s Brody Fagen garnering a layup.
Moorefield hit the rim several times over the next minute, then Zummo knocked down a trey for the Irish creating a 73-34 advantage with 5:26 remaining in the Region II Co-Championship.
Malaki connected on a jumper for the Yellow Jackets during the ensuing series.
Notre Dame made three more field goals over the next three minutes before the Yellow Jackets notched a 3-pointer from Addison Barb with 2:44 to go, 79-39.
The Irish added a 15th 3-pointer at the 2:30 mark by Elijah Inwar.
Moorefield notched a free throw by Thompson before forcing several turnovers created by Dean Keplinger and Addison Barb (two) with the latter resulting in a breakaway layup with 1:10 remaining, 82-42.
“It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot from these teammates. I had a great experience with these guys and it was a fun ride. It was very special to be here and we worked hard to be here. I am glad to have done this with these guys,” Moorefield senior Addison Barb said.
Notre Dame (19-6) capped off the Class A Region II Co-Championship title with one more perimeter basket coming from Trey Pettito and a steal by Dylan O’Sullivan sending the Irish to dance in Charleston at the state tournament with a final score of 85-42.
Pendleton County (23-0) remained undefeated winning its first Class A Region II Co-Championship in program history (1998) by edging Trinity Christian 45-38 to join the Irish at the state tournament.
The Yellow Jackets season came to an end as the Class A Region II co-runner-up with a season record of 11-15.