WHEELING, W.Va. -- Over the past few weeks, Huntington Prep Academy had started slow in games, only to come back on its opponents with late rallies.
On Friday night, the Express boys basketball team ran into a talented squad that did not allow them to make a comeback.
Prime Prep Academy from Dallas used an early run to jump out to a double-digit lead and continued its interior dominance in a 59-46 win over Huntington Prep.
"They dominated us on the inside," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "They came in with the game plan to take it at us inside. When you let guys who are that skilled get it that deep down low, they are going to score."
The lead grew to 19 points in the third quarter as Prime Prep finished at the rim often against the Express.
Prime Prep forward Elijah Thomas finished 8-of-10 from the floor to end the game with 18 points, which matched teammate Emmanuel Mudiay.
Both Mudiay and Huntington Prep's Andrew Wiggins are targets of University of Kentucky coach John Calipari, who was at the game along with assistant Orlando Antigua.
Wiggins had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Huntington Prep. He was 7-of-12 from the field, but the rest of the team finished just 10-of-41 combined.
"When teams play a zone, you have to make some shots," Fulford said. "That's the bottom line. You have to knock down shots when open."
After the lead grew to its largest margin, Huntington Prep picked up the tempo and cut the deficit to 10 points following five consecutive points from Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
The team had more opportunities to cut the deficit after missed one-and-one free throw opportunites by Prime Prep, but turnovers and missed shots ended any chance of a comeback.
"We got it to 10 and had three straight possessions where we had chances but we had the wrong guys taking shots," Fulford said. "We have to do a better job of understanding the situation and getting the right guys the ball."
Huntington Prep started slow out of the gate and Prime Prep immediately went to work inside to gain an early lead.
The Express took an early 3-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Montaque Gill-Caesar, but Prime Prep took off from there, scoring the game's next 13 points en route to a double-digit advantage.
Huntington Prep made a run of its own to cut the deficit to 16-14, but Prime Prep got baskets in transition and jumped out to a 27-17 halftime lead.
The Express shot just 22 percent in the first half as Prime Prep's triangle-and-two defense surrounded Wiggins and Rathan-Mayes.
"They took our two best offensive players out and made them work," Fulford said.
PRIME PREP 14 13 16 16 -- 59: Mudiay 18, S. Thomas 2, Mickey 13, Shepherd 8, E. Thomas 18.
HUNTINGTON PREP 7 10 11 18 -- 46: Gill-Caesar 5, Landry 5, Rathan-Mayes 6, Wiggins 18, Kingsley 7, Grandstaff 2, Strake 3.