ONA — Going into Friday night’s Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 championship game against Huntington at Cabell Midland High School the Logan High School boys’ basketball team knew it was already going to the regional tourney.
Win or lose, the Wildcats knew they were just one more win away from reaching the state tourney.
Friday night’s clash amounted to a game over a trophy.
Logan put up a good fight and gave Huntington all it wanted before bowing 49-36 to the Highlanders in the sectional finals at Ona.
Logan (8-16) saw its consecutive sectional title streak end at three but are still in the hunt for the state tournament.
The Wildcats will have to do it on the road on Tuesday night at Hurricane in a battle against the Redskins in the Class AAA Region 4 co-championship game. Hurricane, which beat Logan 67-60 way back in the season opener at Logan’s Willie Akers Arena, advanced with an easy 75-45 victory over Nitro. The Redskins are 19-5 heading into the game which is set to tip off on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Hurricane High School.
Huntington improved to 17-6 with the win and will host Nitro (10-13) on Tuesday night for the right to play in the Big Dance.
The Highlanders avenged last year’s 64-45 loss to Logan in the sectional final.
Logan had advanced with Wednesday night’s thrilling 76-71 overtime win over Spring Valley in the sectional semifinals at Cabell Midland. Huntington routed the host Knights 70-47 to advance.
Huntington improved to 2-0 over Logan this season, also owning a 76-50 win over the Wildcats at Logan.
Logan is looking to advance to the state tourney for the fourth straight year and for the ninth time in the last 10 years since 2004 when LHS broke a state tourney drought going back to 1995.
If the Wildcats do it and beat Hurricane, Logan will make it to state with just nine wins.
Logan is suffering its worst season in 10 years when Logan was 9-14 in the 2002-03 season.
But that doesn’t matter.
The Cats are just one win away from making it back to Charleston and Logan seems pretty confident it can go to Hurricane and beat the Redskins on their home floor.
“We’re going to go and we’re going to compete,” Logan coach Mark Hatcher said of Tuesday’s regional title game. “We’re going to play hard and I think that it’s going to be a great environment. To be honest with you, I think that we would rather play the game at Hurricane than to play at Logan right now. That environment is going to be great. That’s what we want to do.”
After Friday’s loss, the Cats remained upbeat.
“We’re just one win away. One win,” Hatcher said. “That was a great thing tonight that we could just relax and go out and play knowing that we were already in the regional tournament. I talked about this with (Huntington) Coach (Ronald) Hess before the game. The winner stays home and the loser still has got a shot. I fought real hard on the coaches committee to get this rule and I’m glad that we have it.”
The Logan-Huntington game was a battle of wills.
The Wildcats played tough defense against the athletic Highlanders but the Logan team is full of athletes in its own right.
“We have a pretty athletic team,” Hatcher said. “We did a good job of guarding them tonight. I didn’t know if we could man up on Huntington but we did a pretty good job holding them in the 40s. That’s a pretty good job defensively against a pretty powerful offensive team. It was two great teams playing in the sectional final. It’s been that way for three years. Hopefully, it will continue this way for three or four more years. Both teams were trying to fight to win tonight.”
Logan seemed to frustrate Huntington for most of the game and baited the Highlanders into two costly technical fouls.
Huntington didn’t seem to help its own cause much as the Highlanders chucked up many ill-advised deep 3-pointers from NBA range and beyond and missed several fast break opportunities and stickbacks inside the paint.
“I thought that we played great defense all night and I thought Huntington played great defense,” Hatcher said. “The players on both teams really competed hard. It was hard fought battle. This was battle of two athletic and strong teams and two teams that didn’t want to lose. We got in Huntington’s head and they tried to get in our’s. It was a great battle. My complaints were about something else. It had nothing to do about the game that was being played on the basketball floor.”
Logan led 5-3 early but it was the only lead of the night as the Highlanders led 15-7 after one quarter, 22-16 at the half and 38-26 after three. Huntington then outscored Logan 11-10 in the fourth to set the final score.
Logan dropped to 3-10 in its last 13 games. Huntington won for the fifth time in its last six contests.
Chancelor Wooding led the Highlanders with 20 points and made three 3-point shots. Nick Tubbs and Arick Nicks had eight each, while Tavian Dunn-Martin had five and Nathan DeMoss and Jeffrey Howard tallied four apiece.
Senior A.J. Reynolds was Logan’s only double digit scorer and finished with 11 points. Worm Street had seven, while T.J. Tomblin and Chase Preston had four each and C.J. Williams, Zak Miller and Z. Minnick netted three each. Trent Dalton chipped in with one point.
Logan was 13-for-20 from the free throw line. Huntington made 11-for-18 of its foul shots.
Huntington led by 12 after three quarters and put the game away in the fourth.
A layup by Wooding with 5:58 left put HHS on top 43-28.
The Wildcats got to within 10 at 43-34 with 2:24 to go as Reynolds scored on a drive to the lane. Another Reynolds bucket with 1:05 to go made it 45-36.
Huntington, though, scored the last four points and claimed the sectional title.
The Cats led 5-3 early on after a trey by Williams and a hoop by Tomblin.
The Highlanders then tied it and went up for good, 8-5, after a 24-foot 3 by Wooding.
The lead later swelled to 15-5 with 1:30 to go after Wooding canned another 3-ball.
Down 15-7 after one, Logan cut it to 15-11 with 3:53 to go until halftime as Street was fouled on a show and go in the lane and split from the free throw line.
Tomblin’s basket in the paint with 2:35 left cut it to 15-13.
Logan was able to stay in the game partly because of Huntington’s erratic, wild, and at times, horrid shooting as the Highlanders missed at least 12 straight shots.
With 1:04 left, Dunn-Martin finally gave HHS a shot in the arm with a 23-foot triple to push the Highlander lead to 20-15.
A 15-foot fade-away jumper by DeMoss at the buzzer put Huntington on top 22-16 at the break.
In the third, Huntington expanded the lead to 28-18 with 5:44 left as Wooding was fouled on a 27-foot 3-point attempt from no-man’s land and stepped to the line to make two of three free throws.
Wooding then finished off Huntington’s 8-2 run with a turnaround 15-footer to make it 30-18 with 5:23 left in the period.
The lead increased to 34-20 with 3:39 left as DeMoss scored on a layup and was fouled. He missed the three-point chance but the lead was 14 — the largest of the game up until that point.
Logan got buckets from Preston and Street and a pair of charity tosses by Minnick to stay to within 38-26 after three.
Huntington then staved off Logan in the fourth.