Bennett coaches Huntington Middle School girls to win
MILTON -- For Sue Bennett, things came full circle Thursday night inside Milton Middle School.
She stood on the sideline and shouted instruction as coach of the Huntington Middle School girls basketball team. As the seconds ticked down, she was doused with water in celebration.
Her Eagles had defeated Barboursville 49-40 to take the Cabell County title.
It took Bennett back.
"No. 2, the Turner girl (Huntington guard Kearsta Turner), I coached her mother at Cammack in the old building," she sad. "And that was the first championship I won.
"So that's kind of cool. It's a family thing. You know the parents."
Now, she knows the taste of a championship again.
Her Eagles seemed determined to make it that way from the beginning of Thursday's contest.
Applying tremendous amounts of defensive pressure, Huntington forced Barboursville into 12 first quarter turnovers.
Naturally, the Eagles led, 11-4.
The second quarter was more of the same. When the respective squads went to the locker room for halftime, Huntington was up 29-11 on the scoreboard and was fully in charge of the turnover battle, forcing 20 and losing possession just four times.
"If we don't come out with some kind of pressure, we come out flat," Bennett said. "So that's the best way to get us revved up. And it causes the other team to have to play faster than they want to play."
That speedy strategy led to Huntington runs of 14-0 and 9-0 in the first half.
In the game's final 12 minutes, the Eagles settled down a tad more in the half-court, letting the sharp dribbling Lexi Sheffield direct things.
Sheffield, looking poised when any Pirate defender was in her face, scored a game-high 15 points.
"She plays AAU and that helps a lot," Bennett said. "And I think she runs their point. And she's playing a three (forward) for me. So even without my point or my 2-guard, she's got control of everything. We're good."
And, really, she's not the only one that Bennett has confidence in.
"We have five really good ball-handlers at any given time," she said.
Any given time, they can all score, too.
The Eagles (17-1) had eight players record points, including a trio -- Dominique Murphy, Mariah Harmon, Abby Conley -- with eight.
"Most of the time, (Jordyn) Dawson's usually the leading scorer," Bennett said. "Lexi's been coming on the last couple weeks. She had a really good game Tuesday in the semis, and just carried it on."
Barboursville, which won the fourth quarter 20-5, got nine points from Karlee Alderman and seven points and eight rebounds from Lexi Ferguson.
Huntington won the county title for the second consecutive year.
BARBOURSVILLE 4 7 9 20 -- 40: Wilmink 4, Saber 2, Alderman 9, Ferguson 7, Dillon 2, Stephenson 2, Powell 2, Osborne 2, Villars 4, Bennett 4, Adkins 2
HUNTINGTON 11 18 15 5 -- 49: Turner 2, Murphy 8, Johnson 1, Lexi Sheffield 15, Harmon 8, Conley 8, Dawson 4, Ziegler 3
ENSLOW 34, MILTON 18: Grabbing the rebound, bringing the ball up, finding a way to the basket.
Dazha Congleton pretty much did all that -- and then some -- as the Bulldogs rolled to a win in the Cabell County consolation game.
Congleton scored 27 points and totaled 10 boards to lead Enslow in a game in which it controlled from the opening tip.
The Bulldogs, backed by Congleton's 13 points, were up 17-9 at halftime and 23-14 after three quarters.
A 11-4 closing period sealed things.
The Milton Panthers got a team-high 14 points from Haley Haggerty.
MILTON 5 4 5 4 -- 18: Haley Haggerty 14, Bess 2, Kessler 2
ENSLOW 8 9 6 11 -- 34: Dazha Congleton 27, Miller 2, Williamson 3, Almonte 2