HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said it was his team's game plan to make Friday's contest at Class AAA No. 5 Huntington ugly.
While the Redskins certainly won that battle, they came just short of winning the war.
Despite shooting just 26.5 percent from the floor (18 for 68), including 5 for 31 from 3-point range (16 percent), the Highlanders made just enough plays down the stretch to grab a 50-48 win.
The game was scheduled for a 6 p.m. tipoff due to impending weather but was then pushed back after Hurricane's bus got stuck in traffic on Interstate 64.
Huntington's Tavian Dunn-Martin made just two of his first 12 shots and 5 of 21 for the game, but he hit a pair of free throws with 9.6 seconds left to push the Highlanders' lead to four.
By the time J.T. Rogoszewski's putback went in at the buzzer for Hurricane, it was too little, too late.
"We just didn't shoot the ball well at all," Huntington coach Ron Hess said. "We took some bad shots - not the way we've been playing. But to get a gutty win like that against a good team, it says a lot about the character of these kids and how hard they played."
Huntington post player Arick Nicks certainly held up his end of the bargain, going for 17 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks while deflecting and redirecting balls to his teammates and out of bounds off Hurricane players all night.
His efforts allowed the Highlanders (16-2) to get off 15 more shots than the Redskins and kept possessions alive until someone finally found the net.
"We have young players on the team and they look up to me, Nick [Tubbs] and Chancelor [Wooding] as the leaders and we've got to keep their heads up and keep them positive," Nicks said. "Usually with my team and the shooters we have, I'm used to shots falling down. Today the shots weren't falling and I couldn't get all of them, but I tried to get as many as possible."
While the Highlanders were struggling, Hurricane (14-5) wasn't much better, shooting 37.7 percent from the floor, including just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc.
Included in all those misses were several point-blank looks, especially early.