By SCOTT TYLER
H-P Sports Editor
POLLOK — The last time Palestine faced Huntington, the only disappointment for the Wildcats was not getting a chance to reach the century mark as Huntington held the ball for the final minute after Palestine had 99 points.
Friday night at Central High School, once again, the only disappointment for the Wildcats against Huntington was not getting to the century mark in a 97-80 win.
“We played with lots of energy and excitement tonight,” Palestine head coach Tommy Allison said. “We were able to get on a roll early and build off the momentum.”
Palestine opened the game scoring the first 11 points and led 13-2 at one point, but Huntington rallied and had the game tied 20-20 after the first quarter.
However, Palestine started the second quarter with a 23-0 run as part of a 42-point second quarter and the knockout punch was too much for Huntington.
With 5:01 to play in the second quarter, Palestine took a 31-20 lead when Larry Jackson was fouled while making a 5-foot pullup and he converted from the free-throw line.
In less than a minute, Palestine scored seven more points as the Wildcats had three straight steals in Huntington’s back court which made for easy layups, two by Adorian Arthur and a third by Ben Beckworth. After the third layup, a technical foul was called on Huntington and Jackson made one of two free throws to give Palestine a 38-20 lead.
“The press was very effective as we stayed active all night,” Allison said. “When we press like that, it leads to some easy shots.”
Palestine finished off its 23-0 run when Greg Anderson hit a jumper from the elbow and then Chrys Davis got a steal off the press and found Arthur, who was fouled on a made layup and made the following free throw to give Palestine a 43-20 lead. Arthur finished with 13 points.
Palestine finished the second half of the second quarter by hitting five three pointers. Jackson hit two three pointers from the corner, Anderson added two three pointers and sophomore Jeremy White, who was called up from the JV team for this game, made a three pointer from the corner as Palestine led at halftime 62-38.
Jackson had his second 30-plus game against Huntington scoring 31 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. Jackson also had five blocks. In the first meeting between the two teams, Jackson had 33 points.
“Larry had a tremendous performance tonight,” Allison said. “He is becoming a complete basketball player on offense and defense.”
After taking the big halftime lead, the Wildcats went into cruise control in the second half but the sharp shooting of Huntington’s Robert Pool, who had nine of the Red Devils’ 13 three pointers, got Huntington within 10 points with 2:24 to play in the game.
But Kevin Birdow, who finished with 10 points, put the game away with a layup off a Beckworth pass and then in transition, Birdow had a layup.
Birdow had a last-second chance to get Palestine to the century mark but his desperation halfcourt shot at the buzzer was off.
Palestine had five players score in double digits, including Anderson, who had 22 points and Beckworth, who finished with 16 points.
Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com
By SCOTT TYLER