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The Voice of West Virginia

No new COVID-19 related deaths in Sunday DHHR report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reported just over 400 new cases of the virus and zero additional deaths in its daily report Sunday.

The statewide death total due to the virus remains at 2,726.

Active virus cases in West Virginia rose slightly from Saturday, from 7,012 to 7,061. The daily percent positivity rate as of Sunday is 4.44%, according to the DHHR coronavirus dashboard.

44.5% of West Virginians have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Sunday. 37% have been fully vaccinated.

Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that state health advisers project 65 percent of all West Virginians 12 years of age and older will have been vaccinated by June 20. He is targeting that date to drop the mask mandate.

Free pop-up COVID-19 testing is available Sunday in Wirt County and on Monday in Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Jefferson, Lincoln, Marshall, Mineral, Monongalia, Morgan, Ohio, Pendleton, Preston and Wayne counties.

May 9
Wirt County
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Matheny Funeral Home, 448 Juliana Street, Elizabeth, WV

May 10
Barbour County
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Barbour County Health Department, 109 Wabash Avenue, Philippi, WV
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Junior Volunteer Fire Department, 331 Row Avenue, Junior, WV

Berkeley County
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, 891 Auto Parts Place, Martinsburg, WV
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Ambrose Park, 25404 Mall Drive, Martinsburg, WV

Boone County
10:00 AM– 2:00 PM, Boone County Health Department, 213 Kenmore Drive, Danville, WV (optional pre-registration: https://wv.getmycovidresult.com/)

Jefferson County
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Hollywood Casino, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, WV
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Shepherd University Wellness Center Parking Lot, 164 University Drive, Shepherdstown, WV

Lincoln County
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Lincoln County Health Department, 8008 Court Avenue, Hamlin, WV (optional pre-registration: https://wv.getmycovidresult.com/)

Marshall County
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Marshall County Health Department, 513 6th Street, Moundsville, WV

Mineral County
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Mineral County Health Department, 541 Harley O. Staggers Drive, Keyser, WV (optional pre-registration: https://wv.getmycovidresult.com/)

Monongalia County
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Monongalia County Health Department NOROP, 75 Heart Field Road, Morgantown, WV

Morgan County
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Valley Health War Memorial Hospital, 1 Health Way, Berkeley Springs, WV

Ohio County
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Wheeling Island Fire Station #5, 11 North Wabash Street, Wheeling, WV

Pendleton County
11:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Pendleton County Health Department, 273 Mill Road, Franklin, WV

Preston County
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM, Terra Alta EMS, 1124 East State Avenue, Terra Alta, WV

Wayne County
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Wayne Community Center, 11580 Rt. 152, Wayne, WV

Total cases per county: Barbour (1,427), Berkeley (12,321), Boone (2,012), Braxton (926), Brooke (2,193), Cabell (8,671), Calhoun (319), Clay (495), Doddridge (591), Fayette (3,435), Gilmer (834), Grant (1,276), Greenbrier (2,785), Hampshire (1,800), Hancock (2,792), Hardy (1,518), Harrison (5,688), Jackson (2,099), Jefferson (4,590), Kanawha (14,889), Lewis (1,183), Lincoln (1,468), Logan (3,096), Marion (4,416), Marshall (3,429), Mason (1,999), McDowell (1,562), Mercer (4,801), Mineral (2,846), Mingo (2,558), Monongalia (9,179), Monroe (1,125), Morgan (1,169), Nicholas (1,671), Ohio (4,205), Pendleton (701), Pleasants (877), Pocahontas (663), Preston (2,863), Putnam (5,126), Raleigh (6,735), Randolph (2,570), Ritchie (702), Roane (628), Summers (820), Taylor (1,227), Tucker (524), Tyler (710), Upshur (1,859), Wayne (3,077), Webster (475), Wetzel (1,327), Wirt (423), Wood (7,747), Wyoming (1,984).

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Sentencing may not reveal motive in killings of West Virginia veterans

Families of veterans killed while seeking healthcare at a West Virginia veterans hospital may receive some catharsis this week.

The criminal sentencing is 9 a.m. Tuesday for Reta Mays, the former hospital aide who has pleaded guilt in killing veterans by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin while she worked the overnight shift. The sentencing will be in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg.

Tony O’Dell

“I do believe they hope to hear what her motive is. I don’t know that family members are truly going to believe what she says,” said attorney Tony O’Dell, who represents several families in civil suits contending the Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t do enough to protect the victims.

Although Mays has pleaded guilty, she has never publicly described any motive.

Her defense attorneys in a previous status hearing were focused on gathering records about Mays’ mental health dating back to her 2003 deployment to Iraq, where she was a chemical equipment repairer with the West Virginia National Guard’s 1092nd Engineer Battalion.

“I believe we’re going to hear that it’s post-traumatic stress disorder, but we have a lot of veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder who don’t murder people,” O’Dell said.

Mays is likely to spend the rest of her life in jail.

“I don’t think there’s any chance this woman will ever see the light of day,” O’Dell said.

Tony O’Dell, Attorney for many of the families whose loved ones died at the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, talks with @HoppyKercheval about the Reta Mays Sentencing and family settlements. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/VBBwCq58IX

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) May 5, 2021

Sentencing has been scheduled for both Tuesday and Wednesday, but lawyers have said they will need much less time than that. During an earlier status hearing, lawyers for both sides agreed the presentations that are part of sentencing would probably take only a few hours.

A sentencing memorandum from defense attorneys to the judge has been submitted already, but it is sealed to the public.

During a Friday status conference, participants in the case described a late addendum that would not affect sentencing but that might affect how the Bureau of Prisons handles what happens after that. For nearly a year, she has been held at West Virginia’s Northern Regional Jail.

The defense attorneys for Mays are working to present mitigating factors in the case. Mays faces consecutive life terms for seven murder counts and another 20 years for a count of assault with attempt to murder.

Prosecutors said they may present short testimony from as many as a dozen family members who are grieving the deaths that Mays is accused of causing.

Federal prosecutors said those witnesses are likely to speak for about five minutes each. Many are likely to appear in person, although a few may use video. During Friday’s status conference, the judge said one such video needs review and may need to have a section removed.

“The video is particularly problematic,” said Jay McCamic, an attorney for Mays. “It will become a rallying cry.”

Mays, 46, of Harrison County, entered a guilty plea last July 14 to seven counts of murder and another count of assault with attempt to murder. Prosecutors said the last charge was because the victim lived for a period of time and Mays’ actions could not be determined to be the exact cause when the veteran died weeks later.

“The one common thread that runs through all the families that I’ve represented has been just this tremendous feeling of betrayal that these families will carry with them the rest of their lives,” O’Dell said.

“Even though there’s no rational reason for guilt, there’s an emotional feeling of guilt from these families. It’s something that weighs on them. They very much want her to get the max. They want to make sure she’s in jail the rest of her life.”

Mays began working at the Louis A Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg in June 2015. She was removed from her job in July 2018.

She worked the night shift, 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. in Ward 3A, which housed fragile patients who were not well enough to be discharged but whose conditions did not require the intensive care unit.

Her job as a nursing assistant required her to measure patients’ vital signs, test blood glucose levels and sit one-on-one with patients who required observation.

Autopsies on exhumed bodies have pointed to insulin injections that weren’t needed. The veterans died of low blood sugar level — severe hypoglycemia — caused by the insulin shots.

She admitted to killing veterans Robert Edge Sr.Robert KozulArchie EdgellGeorge Shaw, a patient identified only as W.A.H., Felix McDermott and Raymond Golden. She is also accused of administering insulin to “R.R.P.,” another patient who was not diabetic, with intent to kill him.

The charges and plea followed a two-year investigation that began after the VA Medical Center reported several suspicious deaths. Mays had access to the veterans’ hospital rooms. She wasn’t supposed to have access to insulin.

During a plea hearing last July 14, Mays answered question after question about her understanding of the agreement and whether she had been unduly influenced in any way. Without making the agreement, she could have faced a trial and the possibility of the death penalty.

“Did you in fact do what they say you did?” asked U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh.

Mays answered just as she had to prior questions, “Yes sir.”

But she did not answer beyond that to say why.

Bill Powell

That day, the chief federal prosecutor for northern West Virginia acknowledged the question of why she committed those acts may never be answered to anyone’s satisfaction.

“Million dollar question. She never told us why she did it,” said Bill Powell, who was the U.S. Attorney for the district at the time, adding that Mays denied the killings right up until she signed a plea agreement.

“Obviously families want to know. I’m curious to know. But I’m not sure anyone’s going to walk away satisfied in the end.”

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Viatris plant workers request action to project job as closure looms

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A petition on behalf of Morgantown Viatris plant workers has been sent to state lawmakers requesting action to protect the employees and the Chestnut Ridge Road facility.

United Steelworkers Local 8-957 submitted the petition two months before the plant closes. The decision is related to Viatris’ origins — in which the company formed between Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer subsidiary Upjohn — and a restructuring plan to cut at least $1 billion in costs by 2024. The Morgantown facility is scheduled to close in July.

The state Legislature passed resolutions during its regular session calling on elected officials, labor organizations and industry leaders to take action to protect the 1,500 workers, in which around 850 people are part of the union.

United Steelworkers Local 8-957 President Joe Gouzd said while some lawmakers have requested a tour of the facility, such action will likely not happen.

“The United Steel Workers Union has asked for a tour of the facility for the past two years,” he told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM. “Each time we’ve asked to enter the facility, we have been told by corporate they are unable to participate in our request.”

Union leaders and lawmakers have also asked why the facility cannot be repurposed. Gouzd suggested manufacturing coronavirus equipment as countries like India continue reporting an increase in cases.

“The facility could be retrofitted to make a number of different things,” he said. “Perhaps rubber gloves or N-95 masks.”

Gouzd also mentioned Viatris has provided little information about severance packages for current employees.

“In fact, corporate has been quite evasive to give any kind of facts or a fair resolution of the severance,” he added.

Viatris is planning many of its operations pending closure to other countries.

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Broadcasters get on board to help stir interest in vaccinations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Governor Jim Justice has announced he will lift the state’s mask mandate on June 20th if the state can reach a threshold of 65 percent of West Virginians over the age of 12 are vaccinated.

In recent days, the state’s older population has willingly accepted the vaccination, but the younger generations have been less inclined to help the process along. The West Virginia Broadcasters Association recently announced plans to use the power of radio and TV to help it along.

“We go out and do remotes and get involved in concerts and our clients do too. The sooner we’re back to normal, the more we’ll be able to participate in events. We thought what can we do to help out,” said Michael Crist, Executive Director of the Broadcasters.

The Broadcasters Association will use known personalities in radio and television to create public service announcements to play on the air encouraging people to get vaccinated. Crist said its a very personal appeal from many known names.

“We’re trying to use our talent and local people in the community that people might relate to and tell the story why they got vaccinated,” she said.

However, it doesn’t end there. Crist suggested broadcasters across the state will also allow others to tell their own stories and share their own appeal of why they hope others will be vaccinated, particularly in the younger age group.

“The DJ’s are great to encourage it, but when your’e out there, give the mic to somebody and let them tell their story and all of their friends are hearing it,” she explained.

Last week Charleston based filmmaker Filmanatix produced a 2:00 video feature with many prominent health leaders and business owners in Charleston . The video told the story of many wanting to see thing return to normal. I will be used on television and social media to push for vaccination for those in the younger demographic.

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Nicol’s jumper lifts GW over Morgantown 47-46 in inaugural Class AAAA title game

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was by no means an easy shot, though they rarely are with the game on the line.

George Washington’s 6-foot-6 sophomore Ben Nicol received a pass from teammate John Goetz with 16 seconds remaining and the Patriots trailing top seed Morgantown by one point in the inaugural Class AAAA final.

Nicol dribbled twice, and fired a pull-up jump shot over the outstretched arm of 6-foot-7 Carson Poffenberger. The shot swished through the net, which combined with one last defensive stop, allowed second-seeded George Washington to claim a thrilling 47-46 victory over the Mohigans at the Charleston Coliseum.

“We had the ball for a couple seconds, nothing was really going. I took one jab left, went right, shot it over top of him and it fell,” Nicol said.

It gave the Patriots their third state championship under coach Rick Greene — with the other two in 2011 and 2018.

“I don’t really know how we won that game,” Greene said. “We kept digging and digging and found a way to hit a last shot.”

Nicol’s late-game heroics allowed GW to overcome a pair of Alec Poland free throws with 32 seconds left that had put the Mohigans in front by one. Morgantown senior Luke Bechtel had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his mid-range jumper missed the mark.

“Luke deserves to make that shot, but it didn’t drop,” Morgantown coach Dave Tallman said. “Hats off to George Washington. They had guys that made shots that aren’t their go-to guys. (Nicol) was six for eight from the floor. They had a guy step up. We had guys that usually make shots that didn’t.”

Game Highlights

The Patriots (17-1) trailed by three entering the final quarter and fell behind by five in the fourth, but Nicol hit a three-pointer with five minutes left that tied it at 41.

Two free throws from Bechtel put Morgantown (19-2) back on top, before Alex Yokaum’s layup knotted the game again.

After Xavier Pryor made 1-of-2 free throws with 3:44 remaining, Yoakum’s jumper with 2:14 left to put GW back in front.

The Patriots, who shot nearly 50 percent (19 of 40) made 6-of-10 shots in the final quarter to aid their rally.

“It’s a credit to the kids,” Greene said. “They literally refused to lose.”

Yoakum made two threes in the opening quarter and teammate Isaac McAllister added a triple to help the Patriots build a 16-10 lead.

But MHS held GW to four points in the second quarter, and Poland made two triples, while Poffenberger and Bechtel scored four points apiece to help the Mohigans build their own six-point lead entering halftime.

The 26-20 advantage didn’t last long, however, with Nicol and Yoakum scoring five apiece to key the Patriots’ 10-3 run over the first 3:01 of the third quarter.

However, GW struggled to contain Poffenberger, who scored eight points over the final 4:47 of the third and nine of the team’s 11 in the quarter, allowing MHS to lead 37-34 after three.

“Coach Tallman did a good job of spreading us and isolating Poffenberger,” Greene said.

After making 11-of-20 shots in the opening half, Morgantown was 6 of 20 from the field over the last two quarters.

The Patriots made 7-of-15 three-pointers, while the Mohigans were 2 of 12 beyond the arc and 0 for 5 in the second half.

“We thrive on making a bunch of threes and we’re two for twelve and lose by one and score forty-six,” Tallman said. “I can’t remember the last time we scored forty-six. They were switching defenses and that gave us fits. We didn’t get any easy ones.”

Poffenberger had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Poland had 14 points and five boards.

“I know how disappointed they are,” Greene said. “I’ve sat on that bench as a player and a coach, and it’s devastating because you get so close to a championship. But they’re not losers. We hit a bucket.”

Yoakum’s 17 points led GW, while Nicol made 6-of-8 shots and scored 14. Mason Pinkett added eight points, five boards and a pair of steals in the win.

“We work hard for this moment right here and to finish it like this with a championship is real special,” Pinkett said. “Props to Ben — a sophomore stepping up and hitting the game-winner. That’s big time. We have complete confidence in him and we put the work in every single day for these moments right here.”

Postgame “Round of Sound”

Class AAAA all-tournament team

Brendan Hoffman, Huntington

Doryn Smith, Martinsburg

Ben Nicol, George Washington

Alec Poland, Morgantown

Luke Bechtel, Morgantown

Carson Poffenberger, Morgantown

Alex Yoakum, George Washington

Mason Pinkett, George Washington

George Washington postgame press conference
Morgantown postgame press conference

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Shady Spring finishes strong, beats Wheeling Central 55-43 for first state championship

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In advance of Saturday’s Class AAA title game against No. 5 seed Wheeling Central, Shady Spring coach Ronnie Olson left a message on the Tigers’ board in the locker room that read ‘Win it either way. Win it fast paced or with a grind-it-out style.’

No. 3 Shady Spring went with the latter, and less than two hours later, the Tigers had secured their first state championship in school history with a 55-43 victory over the Maroon Knights at the Charleston Coliseum.

The title came anything but easily to the Tigers, something Olson had no problem with.

“What a battle,” Olson said. “You wouldn’t want to win a state championship blowing anybody out. That was a true reflection of our season.”

In fact, Shady Spring (15-2) had to overcome a sluggish first half, one that saw the Tigers make 4-of-12 field goals in the opening quarter and trail 19-11 at the midway point of the second quarter. After J.C. Maxwell’s eight points staked Central (14-3) to a 12-9 lead, Maroon Knights’ freshman Leyton Toepfer scored the team’s first seven of the second, including a three-pointer that gave his team the eight-point advantage.

“They did a good job of keeping us off balance and we weren’t patient in the beginning,” Olson said.

But Tigers’ guard Braden Chapman scored eight points in a 10-3 Shady Spring surge to end the half, cutting Central’s lead to 22-21 at halftime.

“We played terrible in the first half and we were only down by one, so we just wanted to keep our head up and keep fighting,” Chapman said.

Forty-three seconds into the second half, SSHS got a conventional three-point play from Cameron Manns, and the Tigers never trailed again.

The Tigers started the second half on a 7-0 spurt to gain a 28-22 lead.

Game highlights

“They have the ability with all their guys to pressure the basketball and they’re very good at it,” Central coach Mel Stephens said. “Combined with the ability to have guys that can shoot it and drive it, that’s a tough combination.”

Central guard Ryan Reasbeck rattled off eight straight points for the Maroon Knights later in the third to help them draw even at 34 with 50 seconds left in the quarter.

Shady Spring then held for one shot to end the quarter, a decision that paid off in a big way when Cole Chapman scored near the rim and and converted the free throw for the three-point play.

“Cole executed that play awesome,” Olson said. “He goes downhill all the time. It was a great momentum shift for us and it really propelled us.”

Efficiency was the name of the game in the fourth quarter for the Tigers, who made 5-of-8 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws to stay on top throughout.

All five Shady field goals in the fourth came in the paint, including layups from Cole Chapman, Manns and Todd Duncan in the first 2:27 of the frame.

Trailing 45-37, Central got a Maxwell jumper with 4:57 left, but it would get no closer than six.

Duncan made 4-of-4 free throws in the final 2:23, while Braden Chapman converted two with 1:30 left to help the Tigers preserve the victory.

“The big thing for us this season was we had trouble controlling guys off the dribble,” Stephens said. “We didn’t do a very good job of that and once they get the lead on you, they’re able to spread you out. Those guys out front are all good free-throw shooters.”

The Tigers also held Central to 4-of-16 shooting in the final quarter and 15 of 46 for the game.

“To end a game like that and win the game on the defensive end, it was amazing,” Olson said.

Braden Chapman led Shady with 14 points and seven steals. Duncan and Cole Chapman scored 12 apiece, while Duncan had seven rebounds to tie Jaedan Holstein for team-high honors.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Duncan, the Tigers’ lone senior. “This is all I wanted was to end my senior season with a state title.”

The Tigers forced 16 turnovers and committed only nine.

Reasbeck had 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Maxwell added 14 points and seven boards in his final high school game.

“All I can say,” Maxwell said, “was it was a fun ride.”

Postgame “Round of Sound”

Class AAA all-tournament team

Luke Keckley, Hampshire

J.C. Maxwell, Wheeling Central

Cole Chapman, Shady Spring

Seth Shilot, Winfield

Todd Duncan, Shady Spring

Ryan Reasbeck, Wheeling Central

Bryson Lucas, Robert C. Byrd

Braden Chapman, Shady Spring

Shady Spring postgame press conference
Wheeling Central Catholic postgame press conference

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Marshall reports highest freshmen retention rate in institution history

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall University is reporting retention rate for freshmen students is at an all-time high.

First-time, full-time students who enrolled in the fall 2019 semester returned the following school year at a 78% rate, a 5% increase from the prior year.

Jamie Taylor, Marshall’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, credited the Friend at Marshall Peer Mentoring program, which matches incoming freshmen and transfer students with a mentor.

“The peer mentors really have the pulse of our students and are able to troubleshoot at just the right moment, before a small matter becomes a big issue,” he said.

Marshall University completed its spring semester with a May 1 commencement ceremony. The fall semester will begin Aug. 23 with plans for resuming face-to-face classes.

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Active COVID-19 cases fall back toward 7,000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Saturday’s COVID-19 case fell closer to 7,000 active cases of the virus.

Overall active cases dropped to 7,012. There were 321 newly confirmed cases added to the numbers.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources also reported 7 new COVID-19 deaths Saturday including an 86-year old female from Monongalia County, a 59-year old male from Kanawha County, a 71-year old female from Boone County, a 71-year old male from Raleigh County, a 68-year old female from Kanawha County, a 73-year old female from Ohio County, and a 70-year old male from Marshall County.

There have now been 2,726 deaths since the pandemic began.

The DHHR reported Saturday that 45% of the state’s overall population over the age of 16 have now been fully vaccinated. That translates to 663,080 residents.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of May 8, 2021, there have been 2,781,925 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19 with 156,001 total cases and 2,726 deaths. https://t.co/QIT3oi1qWB pic.twitter.com/CZXaslA204

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) May 8, 2021

Total overall confirmed cases include: Barbour (1,422), Berkeley (12,279), Boone (2,004), Braxton (925), Brooke (2,192), Cabell (8,667), Calhoun (317), Clay (493), Doddridge (588), Fayette (3,426), Gilmer (826), Grant (1,272), Greenbrier (2,774), Hampshire (1,796), Hancock (2,788), Hardy (1,514), Harrison (5,677), Jackson (2,088), Jefferson (4,577), Kanawha (14,855), Lewis (1,179), Lincoln (1,459), Logan (3,083), Marion (4,399), Marshall (3,416), Mason (1,999), McDowell (1,554), Mercer (4,792), Mineral (2,844), Mingo (2,552), Monongalia (9,169), Monroe (1,125), Morgan (1,164), Nicholas (1,657), Ohio (4,191), Pendleton (700), Pleasants (871), Pocahontas (662), Preston (2,862), Putnam (5,107), Raleigh (6,723), Randolph (2,561), Ritchie (700), Roane (626), Summers (817), Taylor (1,224), Tucker (524), Tyler (705), Upshur (1,855), Wayne (3,075), Webster (475), Wetzel (1,319), Wirt (416), Wood (7,737), Wyoming (1,979).

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Williamstown holds off Poca, claims Class AA title with 50-47 victory

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In the aftermath of his team’s Class AA semifinal victory over Chapmanville, Williamstown coach Scott Sauro said this of the Yellowjackets making 21-of-27 free throws: “If you’re going to win these type of games in the state tournament, you have to make foul shots.”

Never could those words have been more true than in Saturday’s state title game against No. 2 Poca.

Despite nearly letting a 21-point second-half lead slip away and not making a field goal in the fourth quarter, the top seed Yellowjackets prevailed 50-47 over the Dots at the Charleston Coliseum — thanks in large part to making 12-of-15 free throws in the second half and 14 of 17 for the game.

“You cannot win a state championship against anybody without having that kind of performance from the foul line,” Sauro said. “Those were crunch time free throws and we stepped up and made them. They mentally tough kids and that is a credit to them.”

On the other side, Poca (13-5) made 5-of-13 free throws, including 4 of 11 while it mounted a rally after halftime.

Facing a 40-28 deficit to start the fourth quarter, the Dots relied heavily on their defense to get back in it.

Game highlights

Isaac McKneely, who struggled after leading Poca past Charleston Catholic a day earlier, hit a jump shot to trim the Dots’ deficit to 40-38 with 4:38 left.

Sam Cremeans answered by making 4-of-4 free throws and Xavier Caruthers followed with a pair of foul shots to stretch the Williamstown (17-1) lead to eight.

“This is the biggest game of my career so far, so if it comes down to free throws, I want to be able to stick them and do whatever it takes for my team,” Cremeans said.

But McKneely responded with a pair of triples to get the Dots back to within one possession, and they trailed 46-45 after Kambel Meeks split two free throws. PHS had a chance to take the lead soon after, but McKneely missed two shots and Gavin Bosgraf hit a pair of free throws with 1:17 remaining to up the WHS lead to three.

“Sometimes it feels like you can’t throw it in the ocean and that’s how it was tonight,” McKneely said. “I’m going to get in the gym on Monday and come back even better.”

The Dots had two possessions down three late, but came up empty both times and the Yellowjackets’ Baylor Haught sealed the verdict by making two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.

WHS finished 0 of 5 from the field and 10 of 13 from the free-throw line in the final period.

“They were really good with their defense,” veteran Poca coach Allen Osborne said. “Cremeans hit some big shots early and they made their free throws when they had to make them. Give them credit. They made plays when they had to make them.”

Just as they did in the victory over Chapmanville, the Yellowjackets relied on a 2-3 zone and it proved to make a major difference.

Poca was held to 2-of-16 shooting in the opening quarter, while Cremeans, Caruthers and Haught each made three-pointers to help WHS build a 13-4 lead.

Postgame “Round of Sound”

“I was pretty sure we couldn’t guard them in man and I was kind of sure we could guard them in zone,” Sauro said. “We had a lot of success with it yesterday and there were similarities of them and Chapmanville not playing against zone often.”

Things didn’t improve for the Dots in the second period as they were again held to two field goals, while Williamstown got eight points and two threes from Cremeans, along with a buzzer-beating triple from Bosgraf to lead 28-9 at halftime.

“When you get a three before halftime from Gavin Bosgraf, who doesn’t really shoot threes, that kind of stuff helps,” Sauro said.

But the Dots turned up the heat defensively in the third quarter and outscored Williamstown 8-0 off turnovers. Two threes from Meeks and another from Jackson Toney helped them outscore the Yellowjackets 19-12 in the frame to face a 12-point deficit with 8 minutes remaining.

“We dug ourselves a hole, fought and fought and almost got there,” Osborne said.

Cremeans had a game-high 20 points to go with six rebounds, while Caruthers scored 14. Haught had seven points and a game-best 12 rebounds, helping WHS win the battle of the boards 38-32.

“If you looked at the layup lines before the game started, I bet you wouldn’t think we’d out-rebound them,” Sauro said.

Fifteen of Williamstown’s turnovers came after halftime.

Ethan Payne had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Dots, while McKneely had 12 points and nine assists, but made only 4-of-22 shots.

Toney had a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards in defeat.

The victory gave Williamstown its first state championship since 1962.

“To win it against that coach and that player (McKneely), who are good as anybody in the state,” Sauro said, “makes this even sweeter because we have so much respect for them.”

Class AA all-tournament team

Aiden Satterfield, Charleston Catholic

Ethan Payne, Poca

Baylor Haught, Williamstown

Zion Suddeth, Charleston Catholic

Ethan Haught, Ritchie County

Xavier Caruthers, Williamstown

Isaac McKneely, Poca

Sam Cremeans, Williamstown

Williamstown postgame press conference
Poca postgame press conference

The post Williamstown holds off Poca, claims Class AA title with 50-47 victory appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Morgantown: Settlement reached with firefighters on differential pay issue

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The City of Morgantown has settled its disagreement with the firefighters union.

According to a news release, the settlement with the Firefighters Local 313 on the differential pay issue will next go before Morgantown City Council for approval. The terms of the settlement were not announced.

The dispute began when changes were made to differential pay policy that resulted in a $2,000 pay reduction for 47 firefighters after more than 30 years of following the same procedure. Morgantown City Manager Kim Haws made the changes on the recommendation of a consultant conducting a salary study.

Since June of 2019, firefighters have been in litigation to correct holiday pay. That lawsuit claims firefighters are only paid 12 hours per holiday shift when they work 24-hour shifts.

The post Morgantown: Settlement reached with firefighters on differential pay issue appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews