Huntington Prep gets past Riverdale Baptist
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington Prep got one of its toughest tests of the season, but used the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 to solidify its No. 1 national ranking.
Despite being limited to just four points in the first half, Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points -- including 12 in the fourth quarter -- as the Express earned a 53-44 win over Riverdale Baptist in the National High School Hoops Festival at Dematha High School in Hyattsville, Md.
"It wasn't pretty but when you're down nine in front of a team's home fans and you can scrap back and win it, that's a good thing," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "I was proud of them. We had plenty of things we had to overcome in the game."
Down the stretch, Riverdale Baptist attempted a comeback by extending its zone press that it had utilized all game long.
However, with the score 45-41, the Express broke through the pressure and Wiggins found Dominic Woodson for a two-handed slam that pushed the lead to six.
The following two minutes were dominated by the Express' play on the offensive glass. Woodson grabbed a Wiggins' miss for a lay-in on the next possession to stretch the lead back to six after Riverdale cut it to 47-43, but Huntington Prep ran nearly two minutes off the clock with four consecutive offensive rebounds to earn the win.
"Everyone knew what was at stake," Fulford said. "It was winning time at that point. We grabbed three or four rebounds and they stayed in their zone so we were patient and Wiggins finished it with a nice lay-in."
Normally, it is the Huntington Prep offense that receives much of the attention, but this win was simply about finding a way to get it done in an ugly game that featured physical play and several hard fouls.
To complicate matters for the Express, they played the contest without veteran guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes. The Florida State commit had been playing through a deep thigh contusion, but was forced to watch this game.
Problems became compounded when Travon Landry, the team's point guard, got called for two quick fouls and had to go to the bench.
That forced Fulford to go with youngster Nevell Provo on a much more prominent basis, and Provo responded with a solid 24 minutes of work directing the offense.
Early on, Riverdale Baptist's 2-3 zone defense got to the Express and led to a 21-12 lead at the end of one period.
The Express defense took over at that point, cutting the lead to 30-27 at the break then forging ahead after limiting Riverdale Baptist to three points in the third quarter.
"They had 21 in the first, but we switched to a 1-3-1 zone and just locked them up after that," Fulford said. "They took some bad shots and we got some run-outs to get back into it."
Huntington Prep never trailed in the fourth quarter en route to their 21st win in the last 22 games, dating back to November of last season.
The Express return to action at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday against Princeton Day (Md.), who features Seton Hall-commit Aquille Carr.
HUNTINGTON PREP 12 15 11 15 -- 53: Wiggins 21, Woodson 12, Gill-Caesar 10, Kingsley 8, Provo 2
RIVERDALE 21 9 3 11 -- 44: Whittaker 6, Powell 6, Doby 3, Johnson 19, Tyler 4, Onuaku 6