Rathan-Mayes, Express find offensive rhythm
HUNTINGTON -- Over the last two weeks, Huntington Prep's offense had been struggling except for Andrew Wiggins, who had taken the bulk of the scoring on his shoulders.
With Wiggins out due to flu-like symptoms on Wednesday night, the Express got exactly what they needed -- multiple players stepping up with confidence on the offensive end.
The Express placed four players in double-figures while limiting Alice Lloyd's junior varsity to just 15 points through three quarters in an easy 85-41 victory over the Eagles.
"I thought it helped not having him in there because those other guys got confidence," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "As a coach, it's a little unnerving because you have sets in and he's never out of the game. It couldn't have been better for us that they played man because it allowed us to work on some stuff without Andrew in the game."
The biggest benefactor was point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who finished with 21 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals for the Express.
Rathan-Mayes had trouble finding his range over the last week and was pressing a bit offensively early, but with the Express offense lagging a bit late in the second quarter, he took the game over.
After starting the game off with a four-point play, Rathan-Mayes had two baskets to end the first half then kept the momentum in the second half with three 3-pointers while dishing out four of his nine assists during a 29-0 run in the third quarter.
The Florida State signee said Wednesday's contest couldn't have come at a better time. Huntington Prep takes on Cape Henry (Va.) in a nationally-televised ESPN contest at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the MLK Round Ball Classic in Hampton, Va.
"A game like today is crucial for us to get our confidence going right back up heading into this weekend," Rathan-Mayes said. "It's a big weekend. Huntington Prep hasn't had any ESPN games on the main network so it's definitely special."
The game also marked the return of Dominic Woodson, who -- like Wiggins -- had been sick last week.
Woodson, a Baylor signee, showed the energy was back in his legs on Wednesday, contesting shots and running the floor for several dunks in transition. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Moses Kingsley, his fellow frontcourt mate who has signed with Arkansas, overcame some early misses at the rim to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds -- eight of which came on the offensive end.
Austin Grandstaff, the newest member of the Huntington Prep team, also had a breakout game.
Grandstaff finished with 12 points and six assists, showing why schools like Duke, among others, are looking at the 2015 product.
He was able to get to the rim and find open teammates while also showing his lengthy range to enjoy his best game since coming to Huntington two weeks ago.
"He just played really loose tonight," Fulford said. "He's starting to grow more comfortable in our offense and it showed tonight. He's going to be a really good player for us."
While the offense played well, it was the defense that was the most impressive against the undersized, but hard-nosed Alice Lloyd team.
Through three quarters, the Express had allowed just 15 points, including a third quarter in which they didn't allow a field goal in outscoring the Eagles 31-2.
"I don't know which coach coined the saying, but one said 'You can't control if your shot goes in, but you can control how hard you play,'" Fulford said. "That's how we want to play. It's a philosophy we use. We're going to score a lot of points when we're clicking because our defense will create run-outs."
After the ESPN contest this weekend, the Express return to West Virginia next Wednesday with a road contest against the University of Charleston JV.
Bryce With led Alice Lloyd with 12 points while former Wayne High School player Neil Dillon finished with 10 for the Eagles.
ALICE LLOYD 6 7 2 26 -- 41: With 12, Dillon 10, Rancher 6, Litton 8, Barton 5
HUNTINGTON PREP 25 10 31 19 -- 85: Rathan-Mayes 21, Woodson 16, Kingsley 14, Grandstaff 12, Gill-Caesar 8, Arroyo 6, Gabriel 4, Strake 4