FRANKFORT, Ohio – With two-minutes remaining in Tuesday night’s Scioto Valley Conference clash, host Adena looked to be in great shape as it had just fouled out Huntington’s second leading scorer Justin Kellough and were owners of a 53-47 advantage. In jeopardy of losing for the first time this season, Huntington turned to the reigning conference player of the year Josh Kellough and the senior star was simply magical down the stretch.
The four-year starter first pulled up and kissed a soft jumper off the glass to cut the lead to 53-49. Following a Drew Trusty steal and score for the Huntsmen, Adena’s Clay Ragland added a free throw to make the score 54-51. Kellough then dialed up from long-distance to tie the game at 54-54 with just under a minute to play.
Anchored by Huntington’s fine on-ball defender Zach Riley, Huntington’s pressure then forced an Adena turnover setting the stage for Kellough to deliver in the clutch. The final possession first saw the green and white drain the clock with Kellough finally looking to make his move as the clock began ticking into single digits. The Huntington floor general started off the dribble moving to his left toward the top of the key when he showed shot, stepped through, and delivered the game-winner from just inside the arc preserving the Division III, No. 4 team’s undefeated season.
Huntington started fast in quarter number one on the strength of Justin Kellough who scored nine of his 14 points in the first six minutes of the game to open up a 14-7 lead before Adena’s Buddy Barnes nailed a triple to cut the Huntsmen lead to 14-10 after one.
Quarter number two saw both teams battle through foul trouble as both teams shot their share of free throws. Both teams got great contributions from its bench as Huntington’s Craig Magill and Adena’s Zach Skaggs made some key plays throughout the period. Skaggs played some solid defense and did some good board work before scoring a key bucket to help keep Adena close. Magill’s effort was phenomenal as the junior guard won several loose balls in the quarter, and he would eventually produce the half’s final score as he slashed through the Adena defense to score just before the intermission to give Huntington the 25-21 advantage.
“I thought we got a great effort from several guys tonight,” said Huntington head coach Rick Uhrig. “I thought Craig (Magill) played well once he got into the flow and Drew (Trusty) did a nice job defensively throughout the game and hit a few a big shots as well. Overall, we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people. It was a good team win.”
Adena was led on the offensive end throughout the night by juniors Barnes and Clay Roll. Barnes scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Roll scored 15. Adena’s sophomore center Logan Hauserman was also in double-figures with 10, all coming in the second half.
Adena, now 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the SVC, loses for the third time in 12 days in a game in which it owned a two-possession lead in the late going, but even through the frustration Adena head coach Lou Postage in no way doubts his team’s effort.
“Our kids never fail to give a great effort,” said Coach Postage whose team is less than a handful of points away from being undefeated at the league’s halfway point after being picked sixth in the preseason by the conference coaches. “Obviously we would rather win these close games, but I believe all of our hard work is going to payoff the second half of the season.”
Huntington was led by Josh’s 22 points and Justin’s 14 points while junior Corey Cottrill just missed making it three Huntsmen in double-figures as he scored eight. Huntington also got eight rebounds from Trusty.
At 12-0, Huntington will remain on the road this Friday when it travels to Zane Trace who beat Westfall Tuesday night 56-50.
The win allows Huntington a two-game cushion in the conference standings because the win not only handed Adena its second loss, but in other SVC action it was Piketon dropping to 5-2 after the Redstreaks were upset at Southeastern 63-59.
“We realize teams are going to come at us with everything they got,” said Uhrig when talking about dealing with the pressure of being the conference leader and a top-five team in Ohio. “The kids are excited about what we have accomplished to this point, but I think they realize that the games keep getting bigger as we go.”