CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Arick Nicks sank a free throw with under 3 seconds left to give Huntington a 55-54 victory over Hurricane in the Class AAA championship game Saturday night.
Fifth-seeded Huntington (23-4) came from 11 points down and survived a frenzied finish that saw five late lead changes for its first title since the Highlanders won three straight from 2005-07.
Tavian Dunn-Martin led Huntington with 20 points and Nicks finished with 10.
Trey Dawson scored 15 points, J.T. Rogoszewski added 14 and Henry Sorsaia had 12 points for seventh-seeded Hurricane (21-7), which was playing in the championship game for the first time.
Rogoszewski’s layup gave Hurricane its largest lead, 34-23, with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
Huntington eventually stormed back with an 11-1 run, capped by two free throws from Nicks, for a 48-47 lead with 2:24 remaining in the game.
After three more lead changes, Dunn-Martin’s 3-pointer behind a screen with 47 seconds left for Huntington tied the score at 54.
After a timeout, Hurricane set up for the final shot, but Nicks stole the ball from Sorsaia and fed to Dunn-Martin, who hit a long 3-pointer with 4 seconds left. But amid the frantic pace and crowd noise, Huntington had called a timeout and the basket didn’t count.
When play resumed, Rogoszewski fouled Nicks with 2.5 seconds left. Nicks missed the first free throw and made the second.
Sorsaia launched a desperate heave that went wide of the basket at the final buzzer.
Coming off a draining, triple-overtime win over Hedgesville in the semifinals on Friday night, Hurricane came out sluggish in the championship game before pulling even with a more-rested Huntington team that suddenly went flat.
Huntington jumped to a 17-5 lead and it looked as if the Highlanders would run Hurricane out of the gym.
But Huntington didn’t score over the final 7 minutes of the second quarter and Hurricane picked up its intensity.
The noise level at the Charleston Civic Center revved up when Rogoszewski blocked Nicks’ layup late in the second quarter, and Dawson followed with a 3-pointer to ramp up the Redskins’ momentum.
Sorsaia’s layup finished the 13-0 run to end the quarter that put Hurricane ahead 27-19 at halftime.