Huntington Tuesday night with upset on its mind. The Mustangs hung
around all night long behind their strong frontline play from Jacob
DeHass and Josh Hawk. The Lynchburg duo combined for 39 points
and 22 rebounds, but in the end, Huntington’s Josh Kellough led a
balanced Huntsmen attack that held off the late Clay comeback to hang
on for a 79-74 victory.
CHILLICOTHE – A vastly improved Lynchburg-Clay basketball program traveled to Huntington Tuesday night with upset on its mind. The Mustangs hung around all night long behind their strong frontline play from Jacob DeHass and Josh Hawk.
The Lynchburg duo combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds, but in the end, Huntington’s Josh Kellough led a balanced Huntsmen attack that held off the late Clay comeback to hang on for a 79-74 victory.
Kellough scored 26 points, dished out eight assists, grabbed four rebounds, and recorded four steals to help the fifth-ranked Huntsmen take a giant step toward securing the top seed in this Sunday’s sectional draw.
“We have faced some very good individual post players this season, but that is by far the best tandem we have played against this year,” Huntington head coach Rick Uhrig said of DeHass and Hawk. “Both can score and both can really rebound. They are extremely strong and they both can make you pay if you are just the least bit out of position.”
Huntington’s pressure defense set the tone early. Anchored as usual by senior on-ball defender Zach Riley, the Huntsmen forced 15, first half Lynchburg-Clay turnovers which led to a 46-34 halftime lead. Riley snatched four, first-quarter steals that led to eight transition points for the green and white.
Riley was forced to the bench for much of the second quarter due to foul trouble, but in losing Riley’s defense, the Huntsmen gained an offensive spark from junior guard Craig Magill. Magill scored nine of his 11 points in the first half including a long range three-pointer that banked in just before the first half time expired.
“We knew we were going to have to slow the Kelloughs down in order to have a chance,” Lynchburg-Clay head coach Mark Faust said of the twin brothers. “We did that at times, but even when they weren’t scoring they were creating transition opportunities for others. We did not anticipate the abilities of several of their role guys being able to make as many plays as they made tonight. Huntington has a really nice team.”
The second half took on a little different tempo. Lynchburg cut its turnover total way down in the second half – only turning it over six times after the intermission – and started establishing the post. Lynchburg capitalized on several easy opportunities and the times they did miss, the Mustangs went to work on the offense glass. Lynchburg had seven second half offensive rebounds that led to 12 second chance points.
Huntington saw its lead trimmed to one possession multiple times in the late going, but each time the Huntsmen had the answer. The final big-play of the night actually came on a missed Huntington free throw. The play came with Huntington leading 74-70 when Corey Cottrill came up with an offensive rebound with 42.5 seconds remaining to give Huntington an extra possession and an extra opportunity at the charity stripe. Huntington would eventually stretch the lead back to seven before a late LC score completed the final, five-point deficit.
Along with DeHass scoring 22 points and recording 12 boards and Hawk scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, the Mustangs also got a big game from senior Michael Watson. Watson scored 18 points while contributing four rebounds and four assists. Point-guard Chris Gorman added 11 points to give LC four guys in double-figures.
The Huntsmen also received contributions from multiple players as Josh’s 26 points was joined in double-digits by Justin Kellough’s 15, Magill’s 11, and nine apiece from Cottrill and senior Bob Sams.
“That balance is what we have been emphasizing here of late,” said Uhrig. “We did some things incorrectly down the stretch, but we also did some things correctly to finish the game. This was a good win against a very good team, and I think it gives us an opportunity to learn some things that will make us better for the stretch run.”
The loss drops Lynchburg-Clay to 11-4. The black and gold will return home Friday night to host Ripley. With the win, Huntington improves to 13-1 and they will head to Piketon Friday night.