Second-half surge lifts Lufkin over Huntsville

Feb. 9—HUNTSVILLE — In its penultimate game, Huntsville boys basketball came out with a vengeance against Lufkin.

The first half felt like it was all Huntsville as it took a commanding lead early, but a 12-point second half ended the hopes the Hornets had at knocking off the top team in District 16, 5A.

Lufkin scored 49 points in the second half as they remained perfect in district play, and got the 69-34 win over the Hornets.

"I thought we played a good first half. I thought we had them rattled a bit and should have had a double-digit lead at the half," Huntsville head coach Jay Oliphant said. "We knew they would come out and give us a run in the second half, we could weather it a bit. Their ability to score killed us."

After Huntsville dropped the first game against the Pack 66-44 on the road, the Hornets came out with a different type of vengeance. The Hornets punched first with a three by freshman guard Chris Reescano.

While the teams traded baskets, Huntsville's group of underclassmen rallied to eventually take the lead. As the second quarter trucked, Huntsville saw its lead expand on several occasions.

As it was one of Huntsville's best starts to a game this season, Lufkin made it a two-point game at the halftime break.

"We've been resilient ever since these young men had to play," Oliphant said. "Besides the Nacogdoches game, we have been in all of them. We just have those scoring woes and it hurts us."

After the intermission, Huntsville came out extremely flat. The Hornets put the ball in the basket five more times in the final 16 minutes for a total of 12 points. Two of those baskets were three-pointers from freshman Kolin Cole and freshman Jordan Ennis in the fourth quarter.

With the ball not falling in the hole, Lufkin ran out to a lead that left no question about the outcome of the game.

"I thought we were able to get some good looks, they just didn't go in," Oliphant said. "You have to hit shots to win ball games at this level. We have to cash in on the open looks."

With one senior on the team, Huntsville is still looking for a leader on the squad. Post player Hezekiah Johnson is the Hornets' lone senior and in his final game at The Bohan, he finished with four points and a handful of boards.

Offensively, sophomore Brett Butler led the way for Huntsville with seven points, going 2-2 from the stripe but was shut out in the second half. Nine Hornets found themselves scoring but no player had over seven points.

With the playoff hopes diminished, Huntsville will have an opportunity to end the season on a high note.

The Hornets will close out their season on Tuesday with a road matchup against Kingwood Park. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Kingwood Park High School.

"We just need to go in there and play well," Oliphant said. "We have to clean it up some. Hopefully, we can hit some shots and see what happens."