By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Third place was at stake in the MSAC. Huntington ‘got ‘r-Dunn.’
Freshman Tavian Dunn-Martin came off the bench to spark the hot-shooting Highlanders with 26 points, as the Class AAA ninth-ranked Highlanders hammered No. 12 Princeton 84-55 in a Mountain State Athletic Conference third place game on Friday night on Ralph Ball Court.
“We feel like we are hopefully peaking at the right time of the year,” Huntington head coach Ronald Hess said. “That is what you want here getting ready to go into sectionals and that is what we talked about.”
Dunn-Martin had five of Huntington’s 12 3s, while Shaquan Miller had a trio of 3s and 17 points. Arick Tibbs added 15 points and Chancelor Wooding celebrated his birthday with 13 points, including a pair of long range shots.
Huntington (14-5) connected on 65.2 percent (30 for 46) from the field, and also made 12-of-15 from the charity stripe.
“We feel like we have a good rotation right now with our kids coming in and out,” Hess said. “When we are playing team basketball like we are right now, sharing the ball and hitting the open man we are pretty good basketball team.
“We played pretty good defense because we are so quick and athletic, we try to stay in front of people and we did that tonight.”
Princeton, which defeated Huntington earlier this season 67-60, had no answers for the Highlanders.
“We got the ball, spread the ball around and got some open shots,” Dunn-Martin said. “We lost the last time so we wanted revenge.”
They got it, with authority.
“That is because we had absolutely zero execution offensively,” said Princeton head coach Ernie Gilliard, of Huntington’s high-shooting percentage. “We have got to execute and play as a collective unit. Everybody has got to do their job and when we don’t do that we are in trouble as you can see tonight.”
Princeton, which was led by Ryan Meadows with 14 points and 11 from Hunter Walters, had won at No. 4 Greenbrier East 63-52 on Tuesday, but Gilliard said there shouldn’t have been any carryover from that win.
“People can say that, but at this point and time in the season, you have got to be up and we tried to guard against that,” Gilliard said. “We told our kids after the Greenbrier East game, now all eyes are on us.
“They want to find out exactly who we are. If tonight is an indication of who we are, then it is going to be a very short tournament run for us, very brief, it might be one and done come tournament time.”
The Highlanders used a 15-4 run over the final three minutes of the second quarter to take a 36-22 lead into the break. Princeton connected on 60.9 percent (14-23) in the half, but Huntington was 15 for 21 (71.4), led by Dunn-Martin with 14 points and four of his club’s eight 3s.
“He is a great ball player, he is a game-changer when he comes in,” Hess said. “If he is hitting his shot like he is tonight he can definitely open up a game like he did this evening.”
“I think it was,” added Dunn-Martin, when asked if it was his best performance of his young career. “It feels great, you just know that you are on fire every time you shoot.”
Baskets by Miller and Wooding answered an errant 3 and two missed free throws from Princeton to push the margin to 18 beginning the third quarter. The Tigers could never get closer than 14, as the Highlanders continued to push the tempo, either getting layups or dishing the ball out for open 3s.
“They shot extremely well, but one of the things you can do to try to create some problems with shooting is to play better defense and we didn’t defend at all, we didn’t defend anything,” Gilliard said. “We didn’t have any desire to cut a man off as they drove to the basket, we didn’t want to move our feet, we didn’t do any of those things that we have to do.”
Huntington built the lead to as much as 30, with Gilliard removing his starters early in the final period. Ryan Rogers scored nine points off the bench for the Tigers.
“Huntington is a good basketball team, I think we are a good basketball team,” Gilliard said. “The question is which team wants to show up, that is the big question right now, which team wants to show up.
“Tonight I am actually a little embarrassed from the performance that the kids put out there. I apologize to the Princeton fan base, I really do, simply because that is definitely not what we are teaching or not what we are looking for out of our kids...
“Tonight, they just opened up a can on us, from the beginning to the end they dominated us tonight.”
Huntington had just nine players available, and all nine scored. Huntington went inside early to 6-foot-4 Tibbs, who had seven first quarter points and 11 at the break, and that opened up the outside, and the Highlanders rarely missed.
“Princeton is a very good ball team, he does a good job with them and any time you come up here and beat them like we did tonight you have to play a great game, we played awfully well tonight,” Hess said.
“We have to do the same thing we are doing every night,” added Dunn-Martin, about a possible postseason tournament run. “Just keep spreading the ball around and finding the open player.”
Princeton has just one game left before sectional play begins, with Bluefield on tap next Friday on the Tigers’ home floor. Revenge will be on the minds of the Beavers, who lost 68-61 in December.
Getting better in the week ahead will be the focus for the Tigers.
“We just have the Bluefield game,” Gilliard said. “Hopefully we will find out who we are in the next week of practice and hopefully get ready for the sectional tournament.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Princeton Senior High School
Shaquan Miller 7 0-0 17, Nick Tubbs 1 0-0 3, Arick Tubbs 5 5-6 15, Chancelor Wooding 5 1-1 13, Nathan Demoss 1 0-0 2, Tavian Dunn-Martin 8 5-6 26, Chase Mann 1 0-0 2, Antwan Washington 1 1-2 4, Jeffrey Howard 1 0-0 2. Totals 30 12-15 84.
Ryan Meadows 6 1-2 14, Derek Jennelle 1 0-0 2, Hunter Walters 4 1-1 11, Kyle Caron 4 0-0 8, Aaron Ferguson 2 0-2 4, Lamont Lee 0 2-2 2, Ryan Rogers 3 3-5 9, Storm McPherson 0 1-2 1, Colton Fix 1 2-2 4, Zen Clements 0 0-0 0, Ashton O’Dell 0 0-0 0, Joseph Mills 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 10-16 55.
Huntington......21 25 17 21 — 84
Princeton........19 13 11 12 — 55
3-point goals: HT 12 (Dunn-Martin 5, Miller 3, Wooding 2, N.Tubbs 1, Washington 1); PR 3 (Walters 2, Meadows 1). Total fouls: HT 18; PR 14. Fouled out: none. Technicals: Lee, Washington.