With the top team in Class AAA going against the top Class AA squad, some folks might have expected a high-scoring game.

Others might have anticipated a blowout win for triple-A Huntington.

But Summers County played the Highlanders 32 minutes of hard-nosed, in-your-face defense, holding their fast break in check.

Huntington, undaunted, gave as good as they took.

No one blinked, and the opening girls game of the Mountain State Coal Classic went down to the wire before Huntington pulled out a 54-50 decision.

It wasn’t an offensive exhibition by any means, thanks to a total of 52 turnovers.

“The fans want pretty games, but pretty games don’t happen when teams ‘D’ you up hard,” Summers coach Wayne Ryan said. “Both teams played pretty good defense tonight.”

There were missed layups aplenty in the opening quarter. Summers (14-2) didn’t score until Emily Blevins got a layup on an inbounds play at the 6:51 mark.

Huntington was scoreless until Taylor Wheeler put the ball up from in close 2:19 into the contest.

“We missed nine layups in the beginning,” Huntington coach Lonnie Lucas said. “(Summers) got in our way and caused us to miss some of them.”

Huntington got some transition buckets and took its biggest lead of the contest, seven points at 14-7, late in the period.

Summers went on a 9-3 run to start the second period to take its first lead, 18-17, and the game was tight the rest of the way.

Both teams got into first-half foul trouble. Summers’ leading scorer, junior center Jolysa Brown, went to the bench early in the second quarter with her second foul.

Huntington freshman sensation Whitney Bays and center Nicole Madison soon followed.

The Highlanders still had talented all-state players Taylor Wheeler and Laquita Wilburn, however, but the Bobcats kept them in check.

“I’m not sure if in our girls’ minds they thought there was a lot of difference between AA and AAA,” Lucas said. “Summers has a good team.”

The Bobcats, meanwhile, got a great floor game from senior point guard Jenni Wynes, who finished the half with five assists and six steals, and from versatile sophomore Emily Blevins.

Blevins scored 13 points to keep Summers within two, at 25-23.

“Jenni did a great job keeping us in the game the first half,” Ryan said. “Emily came through for us at a lot of positions.”

Neither team could pull away in the second half. Brown finished strong, getting 14 second half points to finish with 20 for the game.

Wheeler (18 points) and Wilburn (10) were double-trouble for the Bobcats.

But in the end, the game came down to foul shooting, a sore spot for both teams.

Huntington (16-1) was 12 of 20 from the charity stripe, but 6 of 6 in the final two minutes as Bays, Erin Bailes and Wheeler were each perfect on 1-and-1s.

“We’ve been winning despite shooting less than 60 percent at the foul line,” Lucas said. “We shoot them when we have to, but we’re not a good foul shooting team.”

Summers, whose last lead was 47-46 with 1:54 to play, made just 9 of 23 foul shots, including 5 of 12 in the second half.

“In a big game with good teams, it comes down to your basic fundamentals,” Ryan said. “We were really poor at the line, we missed a lot of shot opportunities, especially early, and we had turnovers. They made a difference.

“We’ll learn from this game.”

Wynes finished with eight steals, nine assists and seven points. Blevins had 18 points and seven boards.

Greenbrier East and Shady Spring play at 5:30 p.m. today in the other Coal Classic semifinal. The winner faces Huntington at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the championship.

Summers will take on the loser in the consolation game at 10:45 a.m. Saturday.

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Huntington (16-1)

Thea Cooper 1-3 1-2 3, Laquita Wilburn 5-15 0-2 10, Taylor Wheeler 7-14 2-2 18, Whitney Bays 2-5 3-4 7, Nicole Madison 2-4 1-2 5, Nicole Eubank 2-8 1-2 5, Logan Clark 1-2 1-2 3, Erin Bailes 0-4 3-4 3. Totals: 20-55 12-20 54.

Summers County (14-2)

Emily Blevins 8-14 0-0 18, Jenni Wynes 2-8 2-8 7, Ashley Brown 1-4 0-1 2, Becca Newsome 0-2 0-0 1, Jolysa Brown 7-12 6-7 20, Meghan Wheeler 0-1 0-0 0, Kim Cox 1-4 1-7 3, Kelsey Brewer 0-2 0-0 0, Lauren Estes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-47 9-23 50.

H 14 11 16 13 — 54

SC 9 14 14 13 — 50

Three-point goals: H: 2 (Wheeler 2); SC: 3 (Blevins 2, Wynes); Fouled out: none.

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