Huntington boys top Barboursville for title
MILTON -- The tale of why Alex Hogsett came back to coach the Huntington Middle School boys basketball team for the 2011-12 season had little to do with the chances of a third consecutive Cabell County championship.
Rather, it was sprung from the grief he got and the faces he couldn't resist.
"I resigned to spend more time with my family," Hogsett said. "Then I came back the next school year and Jordan Schneider's mom, Kim Schneider, said, 'Jordan's mad at you.' And then Antwan (Washington) said, 'You got to coach my last year.'
"I've known Conner (Blackwell) since he was a kid. J.P. (Jalen Pennington) he asked me (to come back). He's a coach's dream. J.R. Howard, he just gave me the puppy dog eyes and asked me to coach. So I couldn't turn him down.
"I love these kids."
On Thursday night, it showed.
With victory hugs and another celebratory cutting of the net, Hogsett -- and the players he chose to return for -- made his decision all worth it.
The Huntington Eagles made it a Cabell County three-peat with a resounding 63-27 win over Barboursville in the title game at Milton Middle School.
And with what word did they break their final huddle together?
"They are my family, I love them," Hogsett said. "Did you hear us yell, 'Family'? You can't change that. They won't chant anything else besides 'Family.'"
This close bunch of Eagles pulled off a perfect 20-0 season by playing with a collective style.
An offense that shares the ball. A defense that takes the ball.
Huntington forced 21 turnovers, 15 in the first half.
"We just play lock-down, man-to-man defense," Hogsett said. "The coaches they had before me did an awesome job with them. They came ready-made. I just tried not to mess it up -- honestly.
"We worked a lot on hedging and that kind of stuff in man-to-man, not switching. That's one of our keys to man-to-man. We don't switch."
Huntington opened the game on a 15-2 run and never looked back. Ten different Eagles scored, including Schneider, the lone three-time champ on the roster, with a team-high 16 points and Washington with 14.
"Antwan, he's the one who gets our pressure started on defense," Hogsett said. "He's the one that everybody looks to to make a play.
"But, like I said, we have no stars. The stars are the team."
Barboursville was led by Nick Salmons' seven points.
BARBOURSVILLE 2 7 8 10 -- 27: Tilley 4, Carter 2, Brown 4, Jenkins 4, Salmons 7, Poytner 4, McNeel 2
HUNTINGTON 15 19 17 12 -- 63: Hayes 2, Pennington 3, Antwan Washington 14, Murphy 2, Howard 9, Jordan Schneider 16, Dawson 9, M. Brown 2, D. Brown 2, Blackwell 4
MILTON 50, BEVERLY HILLS 47: With five minutes to go in the third quarter, Tavian Dunn-Martin, Beverly Hills' do-everything guard, netted his 19th point of what would be a 23-point night.
At the time, it gave the Blackhawks a commanding 35-18 lead.
Over, right? Wrong.
Milton stormed back with a 15-0 run to close things to two.
Once the fourth quarter hit, the Panthers fully engaged themselves in a nip-and-tuck affair. With 10.7 seconds to play, Tanner Mullins, while getting fouled, banked in a low block shot to break up a tie.
Dunn-Martin threw up a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was off-target.
Milton, led by Mullins' 20 points, won the Cabell County consolation game. The Panthers' Brandon Sterling chipped in with 12 points, including three third quarter 3-pointers.
MILTON 7 11 15 17 -- 50: Brandon Sterling 12, Stratton 9, Wagner 5, Jarrell 4, Tanner Mullins 20
BEVERLY HILLS 15 16 6 10 -- 47: Tavian Dunn-Martin 23, Brown 7, Martin 7, Simms 6, Chaffin 3, Harmon 2, Robertson 4