NITRO, W.Va. -- The night went a lot more smoothly for Arick Nicks and his Huntington teammates.Nicks began the game with a resounding swat of a Nitro layup attempt and knocked down all seven of his shots through three quarters to lead the Highlanders toward a 75-43 victory at Nitro on Thursday.Forty-eight hours before, Nicks was bottled up in Huntington's 66-46 loss to South Charleston, the state's No. 1 Class AAA team."I'm satisfied with how we came out tonight,'' said Highlanders coach Ron Hess. "We were a lot more aggressive and took the ball to the hole and got inside and ran our sets much better than we did the other night."We shared the basketball. The other night, South Charleston took us out of what we wanted to do. We talked a lot about what we wanted to do tonight, and that's run our sets and make sure everybody shared the ball.''The 6-foot-4 Nicks, the No. 4 scorer in the MSAC, was limited to nine points and eight rebounds against SC on Tuesday (on 3 of 9 shooting), but bettered that by halftime with 14 points and eight boards as the Highlanders led Nitro 31-18. He hit 7 of 8 shots Thursday and finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while playing about three quarters.Chancelor Wooding fired in 18 points for Huntington (10-3), ranked seventh in AAA, and Nick Tubbs and Anthony Meadows each grabbed eight rebounds."When we play with good intensity and we play smart and share the basketball,'' Hess said, "we're a pretty good team. But if we come out and play as individuals, we have a hard time. Any team is like that.
"You don't like to say there's a good loss, but sometimes in a loss, yeah, you learn we have to play team basketball and make sure everybody's involved and does the little things like block out and make a bounce pass instead of a cross-court pass - a lot of little things we did tonight we didn't do well the other night.''Nitro coach Bryan Faber, meanwhile, didn't like what he saw in Thursday's setback, especially a 55-24 deficit on the boards.The Wildcats (7-7), who had won their two previous starts, were playing their third game since losing senior low post Sam Neff to a season-ending knee injury."Losing Sam definitely hurts us,'' Faber said. "We're a lot better with him, but tonight wasn't about size, it was about effort. Huntington played way harder than us. We're not good enough to give up 17 offensive rebounds and think we can beat somebody. We're not good enough to take the night off defensively and think we're going to win. Take your hat off to Huntington for coming in here and playing way harder than we did.''Angelo Sirianni led Nitro with 19 points and seven rebounds, but made only 6 of 23 shots. Tyler Barton added nine points for the Wildcats, who took their first loss in the MSAC West and are now 2-1 in divisional games."Talent will take you so far,'' Faber said. "Everybody's got talent. Good teams play hard every night. Tonight, we didn't play hard, so we'll learn from it and we'll move on. If you don't come every night and play hard, you're going to have trouble winning games in this conference.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.