SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Little did the George Washington fans, players, and coaches realize that the narrow one-pointy lead Huntington held at halftime Saturday meant the Highlanders had the Patriots right where they wanted them.
At least not for awhile.
Huntington broke the game open and pulled away to a 72-51 win in the Mountain State Athletic Conference girls basketball championship game in front of a crowd of about 700 at the South Charleston Community Center.
"We had a starter out and only nine players," veteran Huntington coach Lonnie Lucas said in a hoarse voice. "So we were hoping to go into halftime with it close and not be in foul trouble."
Senior wing Alexis Williams missed the contest due to illness.
Down just 26-25 and without any players in foul trouble the Highlanders achieved their goal.
In the second half they picked up the defensive pressure and became more aggressive on offense.
Especially senior Kianna Evans, who erupted for 12 points in the third quarter on the way to a game high 27.
"When she gets on a roll it doesn't matter what happens," Lucas said. "She's going to score."
When Evans or any of her teammates did miss Huntington's interior duo of freshman Ericka Budd and senior Dominique Gibson dominated the offensive boards. Budd pulled down 17 rebounds, nine on the offensive end and ended up with 19 points. Gibson finished with 12 rebounds and 11 points.
The Highlanders out-rebounded the Patriots (14-8) by a 43-30 margin.