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Hurricane tops Logan for state berth

HURRICANE, W.Va. - When you're itching to make history, you don't mind working a little overtime.

Junior Henry Sorsaia scored eight of his 18 points in OT Tuesday night as Hurricane survived some shaky free-throw shooting to earn a 64-58 victory against Logan and advance to the state tournament for first time in the history of the basketball program.

The Class AAA Region 4 co-finals attracted a capacity crowd estimated at 1,500 at the Hurricane High gym.

The Redskins (20-5), winners of 12 of their last 13 games, will compete in the 100th state tournament, set for March 13-16 at the Civic Center. Class AAA seeds will be announced Friday morning.

"It means a lot for us,'' said senior guard Rasaan Harris, who backed Sorsaia with 13 points. "It means a lot for our coach, for our parents, for our community - for everybody. We couldn't have done this without everybody involved. For the first time in 100 years, we've never done this. We've never experienced an atmosphere like this, and it was a pleasure to play in front of this crowd.''

Hurricane led for most of the first three quarters, stretching it as high as 10 points, but the upstart Wildcats went on a 12-2 run between the third and fourth quarters to go up 40-35 and appeared to wrest momentum from a now-nervous home cheering section.

The Redskins, however, answered with a 9-0 burst, including a 3-pointer and driving shot by Harris, a 3 from the corner by Trey Dawson and a free throw by Ian Miles, to grab a 44-40 edge.

"I think it was our senior leadership,'' said Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland. "They never panicked . . . They're always optimistic. That's the way they've been all year. They're steady.''

Logan (8-17), though, had one more burst of its own in waiting.

With Hurricane up 54-49 following one Harris free throw with 27 seconds left in regulation, A.J. Reynolds sank a driving basket for Logan and the Wildcats fouled Harris with 11.9 seconds remaining.

He missed both shots and Logan got the ball to reserve guard Trent Dalton, who knocked down a 3 from the top of the key with six seconds left, forcing OT. Suddenly, it was a four-minute winner-take-all that few expected.

"We thought we could give them a good game,'' said Logan coach Mark Hatcher. "We've played Hurricane from the second grade on. We're in the same buddy league, the same middle school league. We've battled those same kids for years, all the way up. We're pretty familiar with them and they're pretty familiar with us.''

By the time Dalton's 3 rippled through the nets, though, Logan was staring at a big obstacle. Both of its low-post threats - T.J. Tomblin and Worm Street - fouled out in the final 1:12 of the fourth quarter, leaving much smaller defenders to handle Sorsaia under the basket. It proved to be the Wildcats' undoing.

On the first three Hurricane possessions in OT, Sorsaia got the ball down low. He was fouled on the first and made both free throws and converted layups on the next two, giving the Redskins a 60-56 lead at about the two-minute mark.

"Sorsaia took over in overtime,'' Hatcher said. "We knew that was going to be a problem as soon as we hit that 3. Tomblin was out and we didn't know who was going to guard Sorsaia.''

Hurricane nearly paved its own demise at the foul line, making only 4 of 12 in the fourth quarter and 2 of 5 in overtime. For the game, the Redskins were 12 of 25.

But fortunately for them, their clock-killing game was a lot sharper. After Zach Minnick's goal brought Logan within 60-58 with 1:18 left, Hurricane ran a three-man weave in the backcourt until Miles found Ace Estep all alone cutting the basket for a layup with 17 seconds to go. Logan suffered its 21st and final turnover on the next possession to ice it at the 11-second mark.

Following the final buzzer, Hurricane's boisterous student section spilled onto the floor to celebrate.

"This means a lot to us,'' Sorsaia said amid the pandemonium. "It means a lot to our seniors. This program hasn't been good the last couple of years. We were 8-15 as freshmen, but we've really turned it around.''

The Redskins finished with four players in double-figure scoring, with Miles, the defensive stopper, adding 12 points and Dawson 10. Sorsaia also yanked down a team-high seven rebounds.

For Logan, Reynolds did yeoman's work handling the ball, driving to the basket and often helping limit Hurricane to one shot by cleaning up the defensive boards. Reynolds finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Wildcats to a 40-26 edge off the glass.

Zak Miller had 11 points and Chase Preston 10 for Logan. Street, Tomblin and Minnick all landed seven rebounds.

"We got beat by a good team,'' Hatcher said, "but we really defended them well. I thought we had them on the ropes.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.

 


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