By BRAD KEITH
Photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN
LINGLEVILLE (February 17, 2015) — It all came down to one game, then it all came down to a single half.
A half dominated by Huckabay.
A half in which the Indians claimed the District 18-A championship.
Huckabay broke loose after its district finale with Lingleville was tied at intermission, defeating the Cardinals 49-40 behind 19 points by Gavin Fuentes.
Ball movement fueled the Huckabay offense, especially that of J.W. Weiss, who put a handful of impressive assists alongside his seven points, most often setting up Fuentes and Cade Little, who scored 10, for easy baskets.
Weiss and the Indians penetrated the zone defense Lingleville used to stymie the Indians the first time they met this season, a 45-36 Cardinal victory. Lingleville was upset by Strawn in the second half of the district season, setting up Tuesday’s showdown as a winner-take-all affair to end the regular season.
Huckabay gets a first-round bye in the state playoffs after the latest chapter in the storied rivalry. Lingeleville faces Bryson, the third-place finisher in District 17-A, in the bi-district round next week.
Lingleville tied the game with a 12-3 second-quarter advantage after Huckabay clicked on all cylinders for a 20-11 lead after one.
The Cardinals extended their run to 16-5 by early in the third quarter, when Tim Griffin hit a runner to make it 27-25. Griffin scored 12 for Lingleville, and was joined in double figures by teammate Jarod Hagood with 10.
The Indians turned to, who else, Fuentes to take the lead for good. He buried a 10 foot jumper to touch off a run of six straight Huckabay points. In a game with fist pumps and crowd explosions following every basket in the jam-packed Lingleville High School gymnasium, the run proved decisive.
Cade Little hit a pair of mid-range jumpers – the first off a drive-and-dish by Weiss – to make it 33-27 before Tom VanKranenburg hit one of his two 3-pointers for Lingleville.
But Huckabay pressed on, scoring six of the next eight with four of those by Fuentes, including a textbook up-and-under move when it looked like he was stonewalled at the right block. Huckabay extended the lead to seven, and it was ultimately 39-33 after three.
Weiss hit a driving tear-drop floater from the right baseline before dealing an assist to open up the first double-digit lead of the game, and two free throws by Fuentes restored the same sizable advantage – this time at 45-35 – with just 2:45 remaining.
Lingleville trimmed its deficit to seven after a pair of takeaways led to Griffin breakaways, but it was too little, too late.
Ky Bray scored seven for Huckabay, Levi Dowell four and Brazes Bray two.
Colbe Stoker had eight points for Lingleville, VanKranenburg six and Bailey Fenn four.