By Bill Nestor
Clarksburg native Mike Carey was back in familiar surroundings this past week. The winningest women’s basketball coach in West Virginia University history was back in town, Carey is currently an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida, and since the Knights were in town for a lock up with the Mountaineers, Athletic Director Wren Baker took full advantage of the opportunity. Baker brought the legendary coach onto the floor, honoring his time in Morgantown and providing him with a framed jersey.
Carey received a well-deserved round of applause from those in attendance, many of whom realize his significance to the program. During his tenure at WVU (2001- 2022), Carey amassed a 447 and 239 record. His teams made 11 NCAA tournament appearances, making it an expectation to make it to the second season. He was known for his ability to develop talent, sending several players to the WNBA.
Carey would retire in March of 2022, but showed a deep desire to return to his previous post. Baker, however, would settle on current Mountaineer coach Mark Kellogg. Carey and UCF head coach Sytia Messer have a close relationship, which eventually brought the veteran mentor out of retirement. Carey is one of the most competitive, hard-working coaches that I have ever met and, no matter where he lands, he will be successful. I’m glad to see him receive the recognition he deserves for making the program what it is today.
West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team had something happen for the first time this season. They were at full strength as interim head coach Josh Eilery had his full complement of players to play in the Big 12 class with Cincinnati this past Wednesday. The result was a dramatic come from behind win that left the fans in attendance cheering for more. WVU was down 10 points with six minutes left and rallied for a four-point victory.
In this modern era of basketball, it was a golden oldie that proved to be the difference maker in the epic battle. Jesse Edwards returned from a five week hiatus due to a broken hand and teamed with point guard Kerr Kriisa to form an unbeatable combination. Kriisa served a nine game suspension to start the year and, before he became eligible, Edwards was lost to injury.
Eilert put them together in a pick and roll scenario and it proved to be more than the Bearcats could handle. Edwards played 29 minutes, scoring 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting. Kriisa netted 10 points and dished out a team high seven assists. The win was a confidence builder, proving this group can come from behind to claim victory. The next step in the progression of this group is to start clawing wins on the road.
This past week brought a big matchup in both boys’ and girls’ basketball. As Robert C. Byrd and Lincoln locked up. In girls’ action, the Flying Eagles edged the Cougars 45 to 42. Martina Howe netted 19 while Carleigh Curotz scored 11 in the victory. Lincoln was led by Ashlyn Riley’s 22 points.
On the boys’ side, the Flying Eagles upended Lincoln 44 to 38 on Wednesday. Logan Boyce (15 points), Cam Newsun (11 points), and Manny Holmes (11 points) paced Robert C. Byrd. David Burdette led the Cougars with a team high 10 points.
It was the first of what could be a three game series for these teams and with each contest the stakes get higher. This is what high school sports is all about!