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If map allows, two competitive Class AAA semifinals are lined up

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Greg Carey and Joe Brocato discuss the pair of Class AAA semifinal matchups in the Kanawha Valley, which are scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

  • No. 3 Musselman (7-1) at No. 2 South Charleston (6-0) – Sunday 5 p.m.
  • No. 5 Bridgeport (7-1) at No. 1 Cabell Midland (5-0) – Sunday 3 p.m.

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Herd’s season opener cancelled due to pandemic concerns

By Dave Walsh

HUNTINGTON – The Marshall University men’s basketball 2020-2021 season opener scheduled Wednesday night against Coppin State was canceled due to several Coppin State players testing positive for coronavirus.

The Thundering Herd will now open the season against Arkansas State Friday at Cam Henderson Center. Tipoff will be 4 p.m.

Arkansas State replaces Tennessee State, which had to pull out of the game earlier in the week.

Marshall returns all but one letterwinner from last season. Key players back include senior Jarrod West, junior Taevion Kinsey and redshirt freshman Andrew Taylor. Also back is senior Jannson Williams.

West made the Conference USA All-Defensive Team last year. Kinsey earned second-team All-C-USA honors. He led the team in scoring with a 16.4 average. Taylor made the C-USA All-Freshman Team after making league freshman of the week three times last season

Marshall closed out last season with a win over UTEP in the first round of the C-USA Tournament before the season came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In pandemic, teacher with health worries says he’s thankful for time in classroom

Kevin Holmes, a 58-year-old business teacher at Shepherdstown Middle School, is grateful for the time he’s been able to spend in class with colleagues and students this year.

“I’m blessed,” Holmes said a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. “I really feel that way.”

Given the risks of the coronavirus pandemic, odds were against Holmes standing in front of a class this year. His health issues include high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and asthma, plus carrying a few extra pounds.

When Holmes was among the Jefferson County school system employees to discuss the challenges of the pandemic with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos earlier this year, he described a warning from his doctor.

“I’m probably at the top of list as the health risk in Jefferson County Schools,” Holmes told DeVos.

Holmes repeated the warning during the interview for this story.

“He just said if I caught it, I’d have a hard time surviving it.”

Holmes is a good example of the kind of uncertainty that school systems and individual educators have gone through during the pandemic. Schools ramped up with personal protective equipment, cleaning regimens, new rules about social distancing and an often-awkward balance of classroom and distance learning.

“I can say all my staff are overjoyed to have the opportunity to be with students in whatever format they can and with all the students on site that they possibly can get under their wing,” said Shepherdstown Middle School Principal Rebecca Horn.

“They are willing to do things that I would never have imagined adults would be willing to do at such a fast and hurried pace, inasmuch as learning the technology and making accommodations to be on site or virtual or reach the children by phone, house visits, whatever it takes to get the job done to reach our children and provide both the educational and personal touches that school provides.”

Now, at a holiday break with virus levels rising, uncertainty prevails.

The weekly Department of Education map depicts nine counties as red, the highest level of virus and halting classroom instruction. Another 13 counties were orange, which also sends students home. And some counties, like Upshur, have made their own decisions to forego classroom instruction as virus cases strain the supply of substitutes.

The Department of Education lists 24 current West Virginia school outbreaks, defined as two or more confirmed covid-19 cases in a 14-day period in a single classroom or core unit.

Dale Lee

The situation has gotten so challenging that the West Virginia Education Association has called for a shift to remote learning through the end of 2020.

“Our school systems are seeing massive closures and quarantines due to exposure and contact tracing. Many systems have not opened for weeks and others are alternating between in-person and remote learning depending on map colors,” stated WVEA President Dale Lee.

State schools Superintendent Clayton Burch has described remote learning as a Band-Aid, for emergency use only and far less than ideal because it’s such a challenge to remain in touch with many West Virginia students from afar.

headshot
Governor Justice

On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice said remote learning “is failing us.”

The governor has agreed that increased spread of the virus in communities has made it challenging to keep schools open. But Justice and state health experts have contended that the precautions in schools have made them safer than other public places.

“We want our kids in school, and we want those schools to be dadgum safe. And we want those schools to be safe for our teachers and our service personnel and everyone else,” Justice said during a Wednesday coronavirus briefing.

“Those kids, they need to be in school. Badly do they need to be in school. And our teachers want them to be in school.”

Jefferson County, where Holmes has been a teacher for many years, has joined many other West Virginia counties with recent challenges.

Holmes met in the principal’s office to speak for this story on Nov. 12, which was a Thursday. The next Saturday, Jefferson County went orange on the map, shifting to remote learning for the following week. This week, Jefferson County remained orange.

Justice had earlier announced school should remain out a full week after Thanksgiving as a precaution because of holiday gatherings.

So Jefferson County’s classroom closure has just kept getting extended, along with many other school systems in the state. Doors won’t open until December, if then.

That uncertainty has been on the horizon for a long time. But Holmes said it’s not clear how everyone will adjust.

“I think the teachers are prepared; we’ve helped each other. The virtual kids will be fine with it,” he said. “I’m not sure about the face-to-face students, how it will affect them. They’re used to being with each other. You see more friendships and barriers being broken down than you probably would have if this covid hadn’t been around. They’re embracing each other. They’re helping each other.”

Holmes hadn’t thought he would be in school at all this year. He had already sent his official notification to the human resources department this summer when he had a change of heart. He gained confidence after taking note of the school’s unprecedented efforts to prepare.

“I saw the hand sanitizer and the floor looked brand new,” he said. “Social distancing was important for me.”

Besides, he said, “I really needed the socialization. It was affecting me emotionally to stay home.”

Moreover, “the kids needed me.”

Holmes is in his 11th year at Shepherdstown Middle after spending six years at Jefferson High School. His business class responsibilities mean leading students through creating and running simulated businesses while also coaching a new robotics competition team after school. He is also football coach and girls basketball coach for the middle school.

This year, he’s had to multi-task more than ever — teaching some students right in front of him while also directing attention online to some students who are logging in from home. It’s been a big adjustment. Holmes admitted that a time or two he’s forgotten to log in for the virtual classes, rallying once reminded.

When DeVos visited a few weeks ago, Holmes gave her an honest and somewhat frustrated assessment that the virtual learning wasn’t working out very well. But with time and increased parental involvement, he now believes virtual learning has improved.

Holmes said he can tell some of the students who log on for virtual learning are eager for human contact because some log in for classes that aren’t even on their schedules. Others reach out during his office hours because “they just want to talk.”

“They just want you to say ‘good morning,’ tell them to have a good day and they’re fine,” Holmes said. “It’s more than reading, writing and arithmetic here at school.”

Holmes said he has not regrets about his time in the classroom this year.

“I love what I do,” he said, “love my kids.”

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Resident COVID positive number now at 80 at Marshall County nursing home

MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. — By the day before Thanksgiving, an outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing home in Marshall County had grown to include most of the residents.

Reporting from Stonerise Moundsville, previously known as Mound View, showed 80 of the facility’s 85 residents had tested positive.

As of Thursday morning, those numbers were not yet reflected in statewide long-term care case tracking from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Stonerise information showed, in all, 47 of 101 patients were COVID positive as of Thursday at Stonerise Clarksburg; 62 of 93 patients at Stonerise Keyser; and eight out of 99 at Stonerise Kingwood.

Other sites with at least one positive case included those in Bridgeport, Charleston, Lewisburg, Martinsburg and Morgantown.

Staff positive numbers for Stonerise were not available.

Stonerise officials said employees at all facilities, which remained closed to visitation, were continuing to follow infection control policies and had support from the West Virginia National Guard.

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Bank robbery suspect arrested in Harrison County

SALEM, W.Va. — A suspect in a Harrison County bank robbery was spending Thanksgiving Day in jail.

Clinton Monroe Utter

Records showed Clinton Monroe Utter, 43, was booked Wednesday night at the North Central Regional Jail following his arrest after 8 p.m. during a traffic stop on Route 50 near Salem.

Utter allegedly robbed the Summit Community Bank in Salem on Nov. 17, 2020.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department were handling the investigation.

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McDowell County hunter nails a most unusual 8 point buck

IAEGER, W.Va. — Mother Nature can throw you some curve balls. Nobody knows that better than Cody Delong of Iaeger, West Virginia. Cody, a pharmacy student at Marshall University, is an accomplished hunter. Over the years, he’s killed some nice McDowell County bucks. However, there is one which has always found a way to elude him. That is until 2020.

“I’ve had about four years of history with this buck. I got a picture of him four years ago and he was a symmetrical eight point buck,” Delong said in a recent interview on West Virginia Outdoors.

Listen to “Cody Delong on W.Va. Outdoors” on Spreaker.

Over the course of the next four years, the buck wasn’t camera shy, but Delong said laying eyes on him was a completely different story.

“I’ve got thousands of pictures of this deer, honestly thousands. I’ve hunted him in multiple different places. I’ve tried to figure out where he is during the rut, during the early season, during the late season. The only predictable thing about this buck was in the late season. He was always showing up frequently, but about the only place you could count on seeing him under the sun was December,” Delong explained.

The unpredictable nature of the buck was frustrating. The fact he only showed up at Christmas earned him the nickname “Rudolph.” However, in 2020, he had another wrinkle to add to his mystique and to whet Delong’s appetite to pursue him. His eight point rack for 2020 was true freak of nature.

“He has double-split G-2’s. He’s an eight point buck, but one side has three and one side has five. The three point side would be a typical six point frame but he has no brow tine. The other side is a typical eight-point frame, but he has the split G-2 which gives him five on that side,” Delong said trying his best to describe the buck unusual array of antlers.

During the past several years, Delong had given up early on finding the buck since he had others in the area and would typically tag out with a shot at another deer without ever giving “Rudolph” too much of a chance. However the odd nature of the 2020 rack made Delong more determined than ever.

A closer look at Delong’s buck which shows the 3 x 5 pattern, and the very unusual split G-2 on one side.

“This year I set out to kill him specifically. I passed on eight different bucks this year, including one really nice 20-inch eight pointer. I just knew this deer was unique and he was getting up there in age and he was probably going to go downhill next year,” he said.

But when the first week of November arrived, Delong was still unable to nail down the buck’s pattern. He caught one picture of the buck in an area he’s hunted previously, but hadn’t planned to hunt this year. Those plans changed and he moved into position on a foggy Friday morning.

Delong said the fog started lifting about 10 o’clock and he knew the bucks would soon be moving. He had two small bucks near his stand immediately. As he watched those two, movement caught his eye a further distance away.

“I looked over my shoulder and it was a deer coming down the road and then all of the sudden it was like somebody opened a curtain and I saw his rack appear out of the fog and I just said, ‘OH MAN!'” laughed Delong.

“He turned his head and the sun hit that big split G-2 and it was like seeing a unicorn. You hunt a deer for that long and never see him you wonder if he really exists,” he said.

The buck quietly walked straight toward Delong’s stand without hesitation. He strolled up an offered a quartering away shot at 18 yards and suddenly, the four year pursuit came to an end.

“He came right in on a string like you were calling a turkey. He never knew I was in the world,” he said.

A fitting way to put it since until that moment, Delong wasn’t sure this buck he had seen on camera for the past four years was really in the world either.

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McBride nets career-high 23 as WVU survives test from SDSU, 79-71

(WVU postgame Zoom conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sophomore guard Deuce McBride scored a career-high 23 points as No. 15 West Virginia outlasted South Dakota State 79-71 in the quarterfinals of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Mountaineers opened up a 12-point lead with 15 minutes to play but the Jackrabbits crept within 4 at the final media timeout.

“They are a lot better than what I think our guys thought they were,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “We really didn’t get a whole lot of scout. I think we just had one of their games. When I watched their game, I was like, ‘Wow, these guys are good’.”

Sean McNeil added 16 points in his first start as a Mountaineer.

“He shot the ball really well this whole preseason,” Huggins said. “When you score as much as he and Taz do, you aren’t a very good coach if you tell them to go guard the best guy all the time, because you have to have them on the floor. (Sean) has come a long way defensively. He didn’t shoot it as well today as he has been shooting it.”

Taz Sherman chipped in with 14 as West Virginia’s backcourt accounted for 53 of the team’s points. McBride connected on 9-of-19 shots from the floor.

“Honestly, just get the ball to my teammates and let the game come to me,” McBride said. “The first thing when you step on the floor is to compete and to win. That’s really the only things going through my head.”

SIOUX FALLS, SD – NOVEMBER 25: Douglas Wilson #35 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits drives toward Gabe Osabuohien #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD. (Photo by Richard Carlson/Inertia)

South Dakota State kept West Virginia’s frontcourt combo of Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver in check in the scoring column. Each scored 7 points, although Culver grabbed 14 rebounds. WVU owned just a slight 41-39 edge in rebounding.

“We couldn’t keep Derek on the floor,” Huggins said. “That hurts us. I think he is one of the premier rebounders in the country.”

“When you take out Oscar, you have to rely on different things,” McBride said. “They were packing it in so well and just played really solid on defense. A lot of the shots I think we can make. It just didn’t go in today. I think we will obviously look at the film and see other ways we can get our offense moving better and have a little more flow to it.”

SIOUX FALLS, SD – NOVEMBER 25: Alex Arians #34 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits drives against Miles McBride #4 of the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD. (Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

“We just have to capitalize more off of passing the ball and moving the ball around to get to scoring than letting the ball stick to our hands,” Sherman said.

Fairmont Senior graduate Jalen Bridges played nine minutes in his Mountaineer debut, grabbing a pair of rebounds.

The Mountaineers will face VCU Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in the second semifinal.

West Virginia will play two more games in South Dakota. They have replaced next Wednesday’s scheduled home opener against Youngstown State with a game in the Jimmy V Classic in Indianapolis against preseason No. 1 Gonzaga.

“We were sitting in the room last night and it came across the ticker that Tennessee couldn’t play because of COVID-19,” Huggins said. “So I thought, what the heck, let’s call ESPN. So I called some guys that I have known for a long, long time and said, ‘Hey man, can you work this out and get us in the Jimmy V and play Gonzaga?’ He said, ‘let me call you back in ten or fifteen minutes’. He called me back and he said, ‘We got it done, you are in’. It happened pretty quick.”

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Warner anticipates certification of election results next week

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The certification process for general election results in West Virginia got underway Wednesday.

Secretary of State Mac Warner appeared on Wednesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said that the process began at 3:30 p.m.

“That’s when the 48-hour chance for someone to ask for a recount ends. At that point, the counties can start the recertification process. As soon as the 55 continues get through that, I anticipate the first part of next week we will then certify as a state,” Warner said.

Mac Warner

Warner said the canvassing process has gone mostly well throughout the state. In Wood County, two of the commissioners got sick but Warner said alternate canvassers were brought it to finish. In Marion County, there was a recount but for a county-level race, he added.

802,726 votes were cast statewide in the election earlier this month, good for a 63.25% turnout. The races for the state public board of works were all separated by double-digits in points.

“Kudos to everybody throughout the entire state from poll workers and clerks to the voters themselves. It went very well. I think the state should be proud of what we accomplished,” Warner said.

.@MacWarnerWV joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss his opinion on how the voting went in West Virginia, and if there were any voting issues across the state. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/w6oq12G0mW

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) November 25, 2020

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Oklahoma-WVU game rescheduled for December 12

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Saturday’s Oklahoma-West Virginia game has been postponed to December 12. The postponement is in response to Oklahoma being unable to meet the required COVID-19 thresholds, as established by the Big 12 Conference. The game time and television designation will be announced at a later date.

“I am disappointed for both teams, who have worked extremely hard in their preparation for this weekend’s game,” WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “We will now look forward to honoring our seniors and hosting the Sooners on December 12.”

The Oklahoma football program has temporarily paused organized team activities due to recent positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. The Oklahoma men’s basketball team paused activities today as well.

Previously in the Big 12, the Oklahoma State-Baylor and Texas-Kansas games were postponed due to COVID policies.

A Message to Mountaineer Nation pic.twitter.com/g7MuH6HkP6

— Neal Brown (@NealBrown_WVU) November 25, 2020

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The Game Within The Game – Episode 27

It’s a Thanksgiving sports feast as we welcome back college basketball along with a full slate of college football and the NFL week 12. Host Brad Howe and Allan Bell from CBSsports Sportsline break it all down, including:

*West Virginia basketball’s season opener vs South Dakota St.

*The best NFL Thanksgiving Day plays

*The two NFL sides to get on now before the line moves

*Three college football plays to make this weekend (hint…OU/WVU is included)

*Best bets

All of that and more in the latest episode of The Game Within The Game presented by DraftKings.

New users on DraftKings Sportsbookremember  to use code METROGAME for a special sign up bonus offer.

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