CHARLESTON — Morgantown’s girls give second chances. Huntington’s aren’t so generous.
The top-seeded Highlanders (15-1) scored 12 second-chance points off 13 offensive rebounds Friday in a 55-40 victory over No. 4 seed Morgantown (12-3) in the Class AAAA girls basketball state tournament semifinals at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
The triumph propels Huntington into the Class AAAA finals at 8 p.m. Saturday against Cabell Midland, who defeated George Washington later in the evening Friday.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Highlanders coach Lonnie Lucas said of the title-game opponent his team will face. “I’m sure (the players) want Midland, but it doesn’t matter to me. We have a little score to settle with GW.”
George Washington handed Huntington its only loss, 78-59 on April 5. The Highlanders beat Cabell Midland 60-47 on April 15.
“They did a really good job attacking the rim,” Morgantown coach Jason White said of the Highlanders. “I was impressed with how hard they go to the glass. They attack the glass harder than anyone we played all year.”
The statistics backed White’s assessment. Huntington outscored Morgantown 28-16 in the paint and finished with a 31-21 rebounding advantage.
Morgantown hung around early, but Ravyn Goodson’s 3-pointer with 1:51 left in the first quarter sparked a 20-4 run that ended with the Highlanders up 26-13 at halftime.
The Mohigans couldn’t solve Huntington’s defense and often passed around the perimeter with little movement, a strategy that failed against the quick, athletic Highlanders.
Huntington, meanwhile, presented multiple problems for Morgantown. Dionna Gray scored eight points in the first half, freshman Amara Jackson came off the bench to grab eight rebounds and Imani Hickman pulled down four rebounds and blocked two shots.
“Morgantown has the ability to come back on you real quick, but it’s hard to come back from that,” Lucas said of the second-quarter spurt.
Huntington built its lead as large as 20 points in the second half.
Goodson led the Highlanders with 16 points. Gray scored 13, while Jackson snared 10 rebounds, scored eight points, issued three assists and blocked two shots.
“My teammates helped me,” Jackson said when asked about her calm on-court demeanor despite being a freshman. “I play basketball all year, so for me it was just go play. It’s just basketball to me. Just another game.”
Huntington’s reserves combined for 14 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, four assists and two blocked shots.
“Our bench did a great job,” Gray said. “Great. We were in some foul trouble and the whole bench did great.”
Sofia Wassick scored 13 points and Cat Wassick 11 for the Mohigans. The Highlanders held Kaitlyn Ammons, a 6-foot-2 DePaul signee, to six points on 3-for-9 shooting and four rebounds one night after she scored 20 and snagged eight rebounds against Wheeling Park.
“That big girl presented me with nightmares last night,” Lucas said of Ammons. “I assigned Hickman to her and said, ‘Don’t help.’ The one time she helped somebody else, (Ammons) scores. She was my big concern. I knew we could put pressure on their guards. That wouldn’t be a problem.”