Despite loss, Hurricane High enjoys special run to championship game
CHARLESTON -- Through the years, there has been great debate over the pronunciation of Hurricane.
Heck, even the P.A. announcer in the Charleston Civic Center called the school by the name of the windstorm instead of its actual pronunciation, which is Hurr-uh-kunn, prior to Saturday's Class AAA boys basketball state championship game.
Considering the run Hurricane went on in the postseason, it was a forgivable mistake. The postseason journey was indeed like a windstorm.
The Redskins had a postseason that included four of their last five games decided in overtime or by one point.
While the season didn't end the way the team wanted in the 55-54 loss to Huntington High in the title game, it was undoubtedly a special season for Hurricane, which finished at 21-7.
"This group of players here and the whole team, they are a very good basketball team, they play together and I'm extremely proud to be associated with them," Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said.
For now, the sting of being so close to the championship is likely still with the Redskins. But in the not-so-distant future, there will be smiles when thinking back on the season.
In 20 or 30 years, tournament fans will still be talking about the 69-66 triple-overtime win over Hedgesville that sent the Redskins into the championship against Huntington High.
There was a shot by Hedgesville's Daniel Delaware that sent the game to overtime as time expired and there was the scoreless first overtime session.
In the second overtime, the Redskins needed a pair of clutch free throws by J.T. Rogoszewski with 12 seconds left to force the third and final extra session.
From there, Rogoszewski iced the game with a three-point play with 54 seconds remaining to put Hurricane up six points. Missed free throws gave Hedgesville a chance, but there would be no repeat of Delaware's end-of-regulation magic as a last-ditch 3-pointer fell to the side and sent Hurricane into celebration of its first title appearance.
After the game, many called it the best high school tournament game they had ever seen.
"They never quit (Friday) night," Sutherland said following the contest. "All the credit is to them. They put on one heck of a show."
While the Hedgesville game to send the Redskins to the championship will be a lasting memory, the beginning of the run started in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 1 championship game when they defeated Winfield in overtime.
Hurricane trailed by four with 2:25 left and scrapped its way to the extra session before Henry Sorsaia's 3-pointer gave the Redskins the lead for good in a 57-53 win.
Just how big was that win? A loss would have sent the the Redskins to Huntington High for the Region IV co-final instead of getting the chance to meet the Highlanders in the Class AAA championship.
Following that game, the Redskins hosted Spring Valley, who came out red-hot from the floor behind the play of Greg Herbert.
The Timberwolves led 51-40 after Herbert's fifth 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, but once again, it was the run-and-jump defense that proved beneficial for the Redskins.
The end result was an 18-5 run that shell-shocked the Timberwolves and gave Hurricane the lead.
Still, all was not done. Leading 73-65, Spring Valley ripped off nine straight to regain the lead.
That's when Trey Dawson came to the forefront for Hurricane, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:36 left to give the Redskins the lead for good in the 81-80 win over Spring Valley, which sent them to the state tournament for the second time in school history.
After that game, Dawson said the Redskins wouldn't be satisfied with just making the state tournament.
He proved to be prophetic as the Redskins embarked on an improbable journey as the No. 7 seed.
That journey began with a commanding 63-47 win over No. 2 seed South Charleston, which had won 20 straight games.
A dunk by Rogoszewski ignited the large Hurricane crowd and the defense took over from there, limiting the Black Eagles to their lowest point total of the season as the Redskins earned their first-ever win at the state tournament.
Ironically, the most "boring" win of their postseason run came against a team that had defeated them by 12 in the regular season and a team that everyone thought was the only team who could challenge Washington, the top seed that fell to Huntington High in the semifinals.
The magical run might have ended in disappointing fashion as Huntington High rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to deny the Redskins the title, but Sorsaia offered an important piece of perspective.
"I remember my freshman year, I think we won eight games," Sorsaia said. "It seems like every year we kept getting better. Now, my senior year, we're in the championship game. It sucks that it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, but it's the next step. I know these juniors will probably be back next year. They'll get it done."
With Dawson and Rogoszewski returning to the mix for the Redskins next season, a Charleston return is a likely scenario.
But for now, the memories of a great postseason run in 2013-14 should be enjoyed by those in Hurricane.
It brought new meaning to the fan base's nickname -- the Crazy 'Canes.