CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No. 5 Huntington pulled off the biggest upset of the boys state tournament, stunning top-seeded and previously unbeaten Washington 66-57 in the Class AAA semifinals on Friday.
Fueled by Arick Nicks’ 20 points—all in the second half—and eight rebounds, the Highlanders (22-4) never trailed after the intermission.
“I just told myself at half time I had to step up for my team,” Nicks said. “I shook the pressure off of me and came out stronger.”
Tavian Dunn-Martin and Anthony Meadows each scored 17 points for Huntington, which hadn’t reached the state final since three-peating from 2005-2007. The Highlanders will face the Hedgesville-Hurricane winner in Saturday’s championship game at 7:15 p.m.
The 5-foot-7 Dunn-Martin also pulled down seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end. With 2:51 left he grabbed a long rebound and passed it out to Meadows for a 3-pointer and a 57-51 lead.
“I try to get the most rebounds I can to help my team,” Dunn-Martin said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Washington (25-1) was paced by Josh Dudley’s 16 points and 13 rebounds and Jerome Jones’ 12 points and 15 boards. But Patriots guard Dominique Newman struggled through 5-of-16 shooting to finish with 11 points. He fouled out with 3:27 left and his team trailing 52-51.
Washington came in averaging 88 points but wasn’t able to crank up its transition attack and scored just 14 points after the half.
“I thought the key to the game was out transition defense,” Highlanders coach Ronald Hess said. “We went zone tonight and I thought it kind of bothered them. We wanted them to shoot the a a lot from the outside and rebound the basketball.”
Huntington did both of those things as, Washington finished just 2-of-21 from 3-point range and the Highlanders won the rebounding edge 41-40.
“I think we struggled with their zone,” Washington coach Don Bullett said. “Sometimes you shoot the ball real well and sometimes you don’t—that’s part of the game.”
Three times Washington pulled within one point or tied, but Huntington answered on each occasion.
Said Newman: “It was really frustrating, we were working harder and harder and we couldn’t get anything to go our way.”