GW's Anthony Dean looks to pass to teammate Jon Elmore (33) as Huntington's Chancelor Wooding (22) and Nick Tubbs (right) apply defensive pressure.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington realizes it didn't catch Huntington at its best, but in a season like this one, the Patriots were just happy to get in a game.Jon Elmore dropped in 30 points Saturday afternoon and the host Patriots held off one final charge to capture a 65-60 victory over the previously unbeaten Highlanders, the state's No. 2 team in Class AAA."The Elmore kid just has such a high basketball IQ,'' said Huntington coach Ron Hess. "He's so intelligent on the floor.''Huntington (8-1) played without 6-foot-3 senior low post Arick Nicks, its leading scorer and a second-team all-state selection last year. Nicks was ejected from Thursday's win against Winfield for incurring two technical fouls. He must also sit out Monday's game with Logan."Obviously, they're better with Nicks than without him,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "We understand that. That's what I told Ron. That's just the way it is. But I thought we did some things much better against the people they have, because they're still pretty good.''Sparked by the shooting of Anthony Meadows - who scored all but two of his 19 points in the second half - the Highlanders shaved a 13-point with four minutes left down to 62-58 on a drive by Tavian Dunn-Martin at the 27-second mark.GW's Chance Blaney hit 1 of 2 free throws before Huntington missed a 3-pointer. The Patriots' Dominik King pretty much sealed it with two foul shots for a 64-58 edge with 12 seconds remaining.Nicks, who had a 33-point, 13-rebound explosion against Capital last week, was averaging a little over 15 points. Hess, however, didn't want to use Nicks' absence as a crutch."We've still got to step up and play,'' he said of missing a key cog. "You never know with foul trouble or getting somebody hurt."It's nice for these guys who don't get to play as much to get a little bit more experience because you never know down the road how much you're going to need those guys. You want them to know the offense and defense and blend right in with everybody else.''
The game took some wild swings early, with GW (7-2), playing just its third game since Dec. 30, bolting out to a 10-0 lead in the first 41/2 minutes. That was followed by an extended run by Huntington, which took a 21-18 advantage. The Patriots, though, closed the half with a 15-2 burst for a 33-23 edge at the break.Through it all, Elmore was consistent, finishing with 10 rebounds and five assists to complement his 30 points, which kept his scoring average at 30.7 per game. The VMI recruit knocked down three straight 3s late in the first half."Everybody's been stepping up,'' Elmore said. "We had a couple good days of practice and everybody's really finally starting to mesh. We're starting to really play together and get better.''Anthony Dean (12 points, eight rebounds) proved a pillar of strength under the basket for GW, and King added a dozen points and Cai Carena six rebounds. Blaney came off the bench for some key defense, four rebounds and a nice dish to Dean for a layup as the Patriots broke the Highlanders' late pressure.Huntington's pressure defense forced seven GW turnovers in the final quarter, but on four occasions the Patriots either got layups or two free throws at the end of a full-court scramble.
"We were a little more consistent,'' Greene said. "We haven't put enough minutes in together, so I was really happy with a lot of things we did."No matter the outcome, we needed to play this game. It's our third game in three weeks. Then to play a team that's good - because they're still pretty good - we're really happy and encouraged to get [the win].''Dunn-Martin tallied a team-high 20 points for Huntington and Chancelor Wooding grabbed 13 rebounds and Meadows six. GW led off the boards 37-33.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.