Huntington Prep stays unbeaten
SPRING VALLEY -- Huntington Prep Academy boys basketball coach Rob Fulford began Wednesday's game wearing a microphone for an On Point Basketball documentary on the team.
That microphone was discarded in the waning moments of the first half when Fulford thought the team was just going through the motions.
A rousing halftime speech spurred an improved defensive effort that led the nation's top-ranked high school team to a 99-53 victory over the University of Charleston JV in front of 1,000 spectators in the Spring Valley High School gym.
"I was miked up for that half, but I politely took it off prior to my halftime speech," Fulford said. "I challenged them to compete. When teams are playing zone, we can't just stand around. That's what they want us to do, get stagnant. We made a couple of adjustments defensively that caused run-outs and got things going for us."
The third quarter proved to be the difference as Huntington Prep picked up its defensive effort in a 20-0 run that put the game away.
With North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams settled in on press row Montaque Gill-Caesar -- a Top 15-rated Class of 2015 prospect -- showed his ability.
Gill-Caesar scored seven consecutive points during the big run and finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds while also playing solid defense.
"We went in the locker room and Coach told us that we were a little sluggish on both ends," Gill-Caesar said. "Because we're in the No. 1 spot, teams are going to be coming for us. We have to bring it each time on the floor and show them why we are No. 1."
Moses Kingsley -- a player more noted for blocking shots -- matched Gill-Caesar with 21 points while adding eight rebounds and four blocks in front of his future coaching staff from the University of Arkansas.
"I thought Moses played great," Fulford said. "He got out and ran the floor after playing defense. We need that every night."
Williams was in the crowd to check out Andrew Wiggins, the nation's top-rated player for the Class of 2013. Wiggins, who has been hampered by illness over the last few days, ended the night with 17 points and 18 rebounds. He had 15 rebounds at halftime.
Part of Wiggins' ability to rebound early was because of Huntington Prep's offense settling for outside shots.
The Express did not hit a shot from 3-point range in the first half, but continued to fire away and rely on their size advantage to crash the backboard.
In addition to Wiggins and Kingsley on the glass, Baylor University signee Dominic Woodson had 12 points and eight rebounds for Huntington Prep (10-0).
While several Huntington Prep players put up big numbers, it was a pair of performances that don't show up in a boxscore that pleased Fulford most.
Point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a Florida State commit, is most noted for his scoring. On Wednesday, he showed how he's grown into being a productive point guard with 17 assists.
"Xavier did a great job at the point pushing the ball ahead," Fulford said. "That was crucial for us to get into our flow and run."
Perhaps the most impressive performance came from Huntington Prep reserve Carlos Arroyo, who earned extended playing time by doing the little things. Arroyo stepped up when opportunity called and finished with 12 points and three steals.
Morehead State University was also represented, and Fulford said they had to like what they saw from Arroyo.
"I think it was good for him to step up and help us extend the lead," Fulford said. "His energy boosted us tonight and he's a good defender."
Charleston's JV team was led by Marwah Sarhan with 19 points. Eli Staten added 11.
Huntington Prep returns to action this week at the Boyd County Roundball Classic. On Friday, the Express takes on Cincinnati Walnut Hills at 9 p.m. Saturday's 7 p.m. game against Arlington Country Day from Florida will be televised on My Z. Keith Morehouse and Charlie Hagley will have the call.
CHARLESTON JV 13 11 7 22 -- 53: Sarhan 19, Minor 7, Newman 7, A. Williams 9, Staten 11
HUNTINGTON PREP 26 13 31 29 -- 99: Gill-Caesar 21, Rathan-Mayes 2, Wiggins 17, Kingsley 21, Provo 2, Woodson 12, Strake 5, Novak 3, Arroyo 12, Williams 2