Huntington records key early season SVC win over Zane Trace


Huntington 54, Zane Trace 43
Even though the Scioto Valley Conference schedule consists of two rounds it was hard for SVC fans not to over hype the conference opening match-up between the top two preseason favorites in Zane Trace and Huntington. First game or not, holding serve on their home court was something the Huntsmen needed to do and did with a 54-43 victory over the visiting Pioneers.

CHILLICOTHE – Even though the eight-team Scioto Valley Conference schedule consists of two rounds – home and away – it was hard for SVC fans not to over hype the conference opening match-up between the top two preseason favorites in Zane Trace and Huntington. First game or not, Huntington coach Rick Uhrig knew holding serve on his home court was something his Huntsmen needed to do, and his squad responded with a 54-43 victory over the visiting Pioneers.

“You hate to say game one of 14 is a must win, but in many ways for us it probably was just that,” said Uhrig. “I told the kids earlier this week that you have a league contender coming to your home court and it was a big game. If you are going to win the league than you are not going to lose very many games anyway, but losing a home game to a top contender to start the season would have hurt.”

Huntington started fast jumping out to a 13-6 lead and eventually ended the opening quarter up 18-8 thanks to a deep three-pointer from Josh Kellough just before the buzzer. Kellough caused some match-up problems for Zane Trace throughout the first half; however, Zane Trace’s athletic man-to-man defense was able to keep the scoring of the Huntington role players down.

The Pioneers allowed only 26 first half points – Kellough had 16 – but Zane Trace’s biggest problem came on the offensive end. Zane Trace had some success at times getting some match-ups that they wanted to explore, but 10 first half turnovers made it tough to get into any offensive rhythm.

For Zane Trace, losing the league opener on the road to the league favorite in no way forces the red, white, and blue to change its goals; in fact, Coach Bryan Alley and his Pioneers were successful in several areas.

Zane Trace got balance scoring putting three guys in double figures – Kirk Maxwell (13), Corey Keister (12), and Matt Miller (11) – and the Pioneers also will draw from a positive third quarter that saw Zane Trace turn a 26-16 halftime deficit into a brief two point lead at 30-28.

Unfortunately for ZT that was the point in which Kellough went back to work. The Huntington point guard exploded during the game’s final 11 minutes as the senior scored 18 of his game-high 34 points. For the game, the reigning conference player of the year connected on 13 of his 21 field goal attempts, including five of nine from beyond the arc.

Even after the big individual point total, the Huntington star was quick to give credit to his coaches and his teammates.

“Coach had us well prepared for what we were going to see,” said Kellough. “We thought we would see some zone, but we were ready for the tight man-to-man as well. Last week versus Circleville I struggled a little bit and tonight I was trying to relax and stay aggressive. We really executed well tonight.”

Although Kellough took care of much of the Huntington scoring, the green and white got some great contributions from many others in several different areas. Seniors Jason Willett and Zach Riley really ignited the Huntington defense late in the second half to answer Zane Trace’s big run. Willett caused two turnovers and scored in transition late in the third quarter, and then it was Riley that came up with two big fourth quarter steals and a big offensive rebound that led to a Kellough field goal that helped Huntington pull away late.

Huntington also got a nice all around game from Justin Kellough. Justin, Huntington’s leading scorer in the season opening win last week, scored nine points, grabbed nine boards, and dished out five assists for Huntington while the Huntsmen post game continues to produce as Corey Cottrill and Drew Trusty combined for nine points, seven rebounds and three block shots.

“We feel like we have a variety of weapons all the way down our bench,” said Uhrig. “Last week, Josh didn’t shoot it well and Justin and Bob (Sams) scored in double figures. Tonight, Josh had it going offensively, and even though we didn’t get great balance in scoring, we still had several people contribute in a lot of different ways.”

The win improves Huntington to 2-0 on the young season and the Huntsmen will welcome Lucasville Valley this Tuesday night for a non-conference match-up.

Zane Trace, now 1-1 overall after the loss, will also play a non-league game Tuesday as the Pioneers travel to McArthur to play a Vinton County team that beat Trimble Friday night 79-59 to stretch its regular season winning streak to 27 straight games.


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