Prep picks up win at Florida tourney
HUNTINGTON -- On one of the biggest national stages for high school players, Huntington Prep's Andrew Wiggins proved why he is the nation's No. 1 player for the Class of 2013.
With the game in the balance, Wiggins scored 14 of his 31 points in the third quarter as the Express turned a close contest into a blowout during a 77-50 win over Houston HYCA at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
"He definitely picked it up a notch and Xavier (Rathan-Mayes) had 14 assists," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "The offense was there, and defensively we did a good job. We are going to score a lot of points, but we pride ourselves on defense and the fact that teams can't score on us."
Wiggins displayed an array of aerial jams, including one play in the third quarter when point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes sent a pass between his legs to Wiggins, who finished with a tomahawk slam to bring the house down.
Even ESPN's Dick Vitale called it a "top 10 ESPN Sportscenter highlight dunk" on his Twitter feed.
While Wiggins was the game's human highlight, the Huntington Prep defense also did its part to take over the game in the second half.
The Express locked down Justin Jackson, the 16th-ranked player in the Class of 2014. He finished 8-of-22 from the floor for 19 points to lead Houston HYCA.
Jackson hit a shot to cut the lead to 35-29 in the opening stages of the third quarter, but Wiggins scored eight points during a 15-0 run by Huntington Prep as they seized control.
Houston HYCA shot just 32 percent from the floor in the second half as the Express extended the lead.
"Andrew took over offensively, but Moses (Kingsley) was all over the place defensively," Fulford said. "He jumpstarted it and Andrew finished it."
While Houston HYCA had trouble from the floor, Wiggins and the Express had several easy looks at the basket.
Huntington Prep shot 63 percent in the second half and Wiggins finished 15-of-22 from the floor with four of his seven misses being from 3-point range.
Rathan-Mayes, the Florida State signee, finished the game with 14 assists and Kingsley, an Arkansas commit, had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
"The best thing about Xavier is that he's not forcing shots and he's pushing the tempo and getting the ball up-court," Fulford said. "Guys are looking for each other and guys aren't being selfish."
Huntington Prep outrebounded Houston HYCA 42-16 in the game.
The Express return to action on Saturday night in the championship of the Signature Series of the City of Palms Classic.
At 7:15 p.m., they will take on Arlington Country Day (Fla.), who defeated Kiski Prep (Pa.) 73-54 earlier on Thursday.
Huntington Prep defeated Arlington Country Day 55-35 in the Boyd County Roundball Classic last week in Summit, Ky.
HOUSTON HYCA 10 17 8 15 -- 50: Decker 6, Hughes 4, Laser 4, Jackson 19, Rhodes 17
HUNTINGTON PREP 11 24 23 19 -- 77: Gill-Caesar 7, Landry 2, Rathan-Mayes 4, Wiggins 31, Kingsley 12, Woodson 9, Strake 5, Arroyo 3