CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the last couple of years, Webster County coach Jerry Dean has been fond of calling Brett Morris "the best-kept secret in West Virginia.''
If Morris and the Highlanders can knock off North Marion in the Class AA Region 1 co-finals tonight, the secret may just be out of the bag for good.
Because if Webster wins tonight, it advances to the state tournament for the second straight season and for a third time since 2009. And Morris, now a 6-foot-4 senior, would again grab his share of the spotlight at the Charleston Civic Center.
Last year, Morris earned first-team all-state honors after that state tourney trip as he averaged 23.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists - and he's upped those numbers across the board this year.
"Because of our area,'' Dean said, "we're not close to any major news outlets. But he deserves the exposure, as do our other kids.''
In last year's state tournament, the Highlanders were booted by eventual champion Tug Valley 83-59, but Morris made quite an impression on those who saw him play - many for the first time.
He wound up with 26 points and 13 rebounds despite missing about five minutes with foul trouble and, oh yes, also pulled off a breakaway slam-dunk.
Dean thinks this year's team (19-3 and ranked No. 8 in the state) might actually have overachieved, thanks in large part to Morris.
"When we started out this year,'' Dean said, "I didn't think we were quite as good as what we were last year. But I think the kids have stepped up around him and he's really raised us to a different kind of level than what I thought we could get back to.
"He can not only score, but what I think he does best is his passing. It makes the kids so much better around him. I'm not saying this just because I'm his coach, but I haven't seen many kids play as hard night in and night out as he does.''