CHARLESTON — The sweat hadn’t even dried from the players in Huntington High’s 58-49 state championship victory over Cabell Midland Saturday when talk of a rematch in the 2022 finals began to stir.
In the 25-year history of the consolidation of old Huntington High and Huntington East that made new HHS, and Barboursville and Milton that formed Cabell Midland, the archrivals never had met in a state championship in any sport until Saturday. The Highlanders overcame an early five-point deficit to win, giving Huntington two triumphs over the Knights in as many games this season.
Cabell Midland loses one senior, Autumn Lewis, a 15-points-per-game scorer who has signed with Alderson Broaddus College, but returns 50 points per game worth of players.
“We are going to miss Autumn like crazy,” Cabell Midland coach Matt Adkins said after Saturday’s game.
“You don’t replace her. The girls we have back, though, will stay hungry and Lord willing we’ll be back here.”
Huntington High loses four seniors, staring point guard Kaiti Swann, guard LaTahia Jackson and forward Ravyn Goodson, along with valuable reserve Daijahnae Anderson. The Highlanders, though, return guard and likely major college signee Dionna Gray and 6-foot center Imani Hickman, along with several players, including Amara Jackson and Jada Turner, who were strong contributors this season.
HHS coach Lonnie Lucas laughed when asked about meeting Cabell Midland in the 2022 title game.
“Let us enjoy this one a while, first,” Lucas said.
Lucas, who has an 871-258 record and three state titles in 52 years of coaching, said he plans to return next season.
“If these girls will have me,” said Lucas, who asks his team at the end of each season if they want him to return.
Gray and Hickman said they want the veteran coach to return, although they kidded him a bit with their answers, being playful after winning the title.
The Knights said they certainly expect to play in the 2022 state tournament.
“I’m excited about the future,” said 6-foot junior K.K. Potter. “We can be back. Look at us this year. We were ranked seventh (in the final Associated Press poll) and we made it to the championship.”
Reaching the finals was a goal for the Knights, but the loss left them dissatisfied.
“I feel very accomplished to get here,” said 5-4 junior guard Rylee Allie. “We plan to make it back.”