The previous two times the Morgantown High School girls basketball team competed in the Key Bank Holiday Classic, the Mohigans advanced to West Virginia's large-school state final.

The previous two times the Morgantown High School girls basketball team competed in the Key Bank Holiday Classic, the Mohigans advanced to West Virginia's large-school state final.

Morgantown won the AAA state final in 2005 after going 1-2 in the Classic, and lost in the AAA state final in 2006 after going 2-1 in the Classic.

With the Mohigans scheduled to compete in the Classic for the first time in four seasons, coach Allan Collins hopes the tournament is again a launching pad for his another long postseason run.

"We didn't win the (Classic), but those trips were very good for us, because we came back to West Virginia and won state one year and finished second in the other year," said Collins, whose squad went 18-6 last season after losing to Farmington (W.Va.) North Marion 58-44 in the second round of the district tournament. "It's a great experience. They take exceptional care of the teams and the quality of opponents is exceptional. Hopefully, we'll play well and return home a better team."

The Mohigans open the Classic against Pickerington North. Morgantown beat North 53-51 in the Classic's third-place game in 2005, a year after getting hammered by the Panthers 61-26 in the semifinals.

"I'm sure (North coach) Dave Butcher will have his kids ready to try to get some revenge for that last game," Collins said. "They play tough defense, so we'll need to take care of the ball and shoot really well to beat the Panthers."

Two of Morgantown's starters, senior point guard Hannah Strosnider (5-foot-9) and senior forward Lauren Shoemaker (5-11), are being recruited by various Division II colleges.

Strosnider averaged 22 points through three games.

Shoemaker, who averaged 12.5 points through three contests, was honorable mention all-state as a sophomore.

Senior forward Teyanna Boyd (5-8), senior center Stephanie Moore (5-9) and senior guard Melissa Wells (5-7) are Morgantown's other starters.

Rounding out the lineup are junior guard Rayya Ramadan (5-5), junior forward Chelby Carey (5-10), sophomore center Brianna Nuzum (5-10), sophomore guard Olivia Naugle (5-6), freshman guard Emily Sabatino (5-6) and freshman center Allison Thompson (6-1).

"We have five senior starters, but they're all first-year starters because we had five seniors start for us last year," said Collins, whose team lost to North Marion 55-40 on Dec. 15 to drop to 2-1 heading into games Dec. 17 at East Fairmont (W.Va.) and Dec. 22 at Buckhannon (W.Va.) Buckhannon-Upshur.

Lacking a strong presence in the post, the Mohigans play an up-tempo style both offensively and defensively.

"We don't have any 6-1 or 6-2 post players to put fear in anyone," Collins said. "We play multiple defenses throughout the course of games to keep people from getting into a rhythm. We want to get out and run, but we'll need to be ready to execute our half-court offense in this tournament, because we'll be seeing some athletic teams."

In his 24th season, Collins has led Morgantown to a 476-97 record, including state championships in 1990, 1992, 1993, 2005 and 2007, and state runner-up finishes in 1989, 2003 and 2006.