CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Huntington Prep's contest with Riverside (N.C.) Christian Wednesday at Charleston's Civic Center didn't set up well from the start.
The visiting Eagles didn't hit the court until 11:17 for an 11:30 a.m. tip. They had but seven players, which almost matched the number of Prep assistant coaches. And, in the opening quarter, Riverside Christian was whistled for a charge, a 10-second violation and tossed the ball behind the backboard on a 3-point shot attempt.
At the end of three quarters, though, Huntington Prep, the nation's No. 7 team according to USA Today, led Riverside by just 12 points at 54-42.
The Irish, though, put together a 15-2 blitz at the outset of the fourth quarter and won going away, 79-40, in the Little General Shootout at the Big House.
"We played sluggish, as I imagined we would," said Prep coach Rob Fulford. "We had two games canceled because of weather, have been off for a while and were playing a morning game."
In the fourth quarter, though, sophomore center Thomas Bryant, one of the nation's top college prospects for his class, led the Irish with a putback dunk, two blocks of Riverside forward Osa Wilson, another putback and a dish to fellow big man Levi Cook.
Many in the Civic Center, however, were watching Cook, a 6-foot-10 junior who has committed to play for WVU and coach Bob Huggins.
What those fans saw was a fine performance from the former Liberty Raleigh High standout. Cook finished as his team's second-leading scorer to Jalen Lindsey (25 points) with 13 points. The junior went strong to the basket, converted on contact, hit 3 of 5 free throws and finished the game with a flourish.
With just under 3 minutes remaining, Cook went in the air for a shot attempt, double pumped while in the air, converted and got Wilson to commit his fourth foul. He showed some passing skills with a baseline assist to Bryant, who dunked. Finally, with 1:10 remaining, Cook closed out the scoring when Bryant returned the favor with an assist that led to a dunk.
"Levi gave us some good energy in spurts," Fulford said. "Once he understands how big he is and gets into position consistently ... he just needs to keep working on fundamentals."
"It felt good playing in a familiar gym," Cook said. "People came to see me and it felt good."