Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — Under a minute into Friday’s season opener, Huntington coach Eric Snyder called a timeout.
His Huntsmen were having trouble inbounding the basketball near the opposing bench and Snyder had seen enough.
“The first few possessions, we gave up a couple of offensive rebounds,” Huntington senior Seth Beeler said. “Coach called a timeout and really ripped into us right off the bat. So we got our tempo going after that.”
Whatever Snyder said certainly made a difference.
After the timeout, Huntington (1-0) put four consistent quarters together while handing Nelsonville-York a 66-64 loss in both teams’ season opener.
“A few weeks ago, we had this program with Bigger, Faster, Stronger,” Beeler said. “We set goals for this team and one of those goals was to start 1-0. We set goals to work towards that. So it feels good to be able to accomplish those goals. Now, we’ll keep working at hitting others.”
Beeler was magnificent in his senior debut, scoring a game-high 21 points … eight of which came in consecutive fashion midway through the second quarter.
But Beeler’s scoring abilities were known. He got help from a rather unknown name in Caleb Smith, a sophomore guard that continued to find nylon in the victory … especially in the second half.
“We picked it up when we needed to,” Smith said. “In the first half, I wasn’t really hitting but I started knocking down some shots and hitting some clutch 3s.”
Smith ended the day with 18 points while nailing four 3-point field goals. 14 of Smith’s 18 points came in the second half while 11 came in the final eight minutes.
Huntington jumped out to an 8-1 lead after Beeler and Gavin Free traded buckets. In the second quarter, leading 16-10, the Huntsmen surrendered an 8-0 run as the Buckeyes went ahead 18-16. But by halftime, Huntington had regained an edge at 31-30.
In the third, the Buckeyes made their run, outscoring Huntington 18-13 to take a 49-44 advantage heading into the final quarter. But Smith kept hitting down the stretch, scoring 12 of his team’s 22 points in the quarter and carrying the Huntsmen to the two-point win.
After Beeler and Smith’s scoring totals, both Dalton Haubeil and Free scored eight points. Seth McCloskey and Nick Haines added four points and Darius Brown had three.
Huntington will be back in action Tuesday, traveling to Portsmouth West for a non-league bout.
“We showed a lot of grit,” Snyder said. “We’ve got a lot of new players on our roster who don’t have a lot of experience playing in a game like that. This is their first taste. But we found a way to win.”
Nelsonville: 10-20-18-15 — 64
Huntington: 16-15-13-22 — 66
Nelsonville: 26 FG, 5-10 FT, 7 3pt. (Carter 2, Seel 2). Scoring: Gail 16, Seel 10, Carter 8, Tome 8, J. Williams 8, M. Williams 5, Thrapp 5, McKee 4.
Huntington: 29 FG, 3-7 FT, 7 3pt. (Smith 4). Scoring: Beeler 21, Smith 18, Free 8, Haubeil 8, McCloskey 4, Haines 4, Brown 2.