Saturday night was an exception. Using his legs to cherry-pick for layups on several occasions, Huff scored a season-high 18 points to lead the Tigers (17-7) past Clarke County 62-55 in the Bull Run final at Madison County High School.
Huff also connected on a 3-pointer and demonstrated his usual hustle and grit he suffered through a bloody nose while attempting to take a charge during the Eagles’ spirited comeback late in the contest.
“He [Huff] came up to me before the game and said, ‘I’m ready,'” Brentsville coach Doug Poppe said. “…I haven’t seen that look in about seven or eight games and it got me going a little bit there.”
Huff was glad to gain revenge on the Eagles, who defeated the Tigers in last season’s Bull Run final. However, with a rematch with Riverheads looming Tuesday –the Gladiators beat the Tigers in the Region B Tournament last year –Huff was clearly not satisfied with just the district championship. Brentsville blew a double-digit halftime lead against Riverheads and lost 55-52 in overtime in the 2002 region opener.
“We changed history with this [win],” Huff said. “Last year we lost this [game], we won it [this year] and hopefully we can do the same thing in the first game at regionals.”
The Tigers came out Saturday playing inspired ball, racing to a 16-2 lead six minutes into the first quarter. Thanks to crisp passing, backdoor cuts and forays to the basket in transition, Brentsville kept the heat on, pushing the lead to 50-32 to start the fourth quarter. For the game, Brentsville shot 50 percent (21-for-42) from the field.
“I saw last night against Madison they [Clarke] looked a little tired,” Poppe said. “Madison was actually beating them up the floor so I told them ‘you gotta push it down their throat early, demoralize them a little bit.”
But after playing so hard for so long, Brentsville eventually got tired mentally and physically. The Eagles (19-5), who split with the Tigers in two regular-season games, began to score in droves, slicing into the paint for easy baskets. Derek Underwood had 12 points in the second half after scoring 0 in the first, and teammate Jason Reid added nine second-half points.
Clarke trimmed the lead to 58-55 with 38.5 seconds left on a bucket by Underwood. But sophomore center Jake Lavely calmly sank both free throws in Brentsville’s next possession for a five-point edge. After Underwood missed a 3-pointer and Reid a follow up shot, district player of the year Brian Owen was fouled and sank two more freebies with 19.2 seconds left to seal Clarke’s fate.
Owen had 15 points and seven assists while Lavely contributed 11 points and 15 rebounds, five of them on the offensive end. Lavely was named a district second-teamer after the game. Senior Colin McCarron, who Poppe calls one of his most improved players, added 11 points for the Tigers on Saturday.
BRENTSVILLE 62, CLARKE CO. 55
CLARKE CO. (19-5)
Underwood 4 4-5 12, Reid 4 2-2 11, Munson 2 2-9 6, Koshani 4 2-5 10, Robinson 1 4-4 6, Braithwaite 3 0-0 7, Szymanski 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 14-25 55.
McCarron 5 1-2 11, Owen 3 8-10 15, Carrico 1 0-0 3, Spriggs 2 0-0 4, Lavely 4 3-4 11, Huff 6 5-8 18, Boyd 0 0-3 0, Wineholt 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 17-27 62.
Halftime Brentsville, 36-17. 3-point goals Clarke County 3 (Reid, Braithwaite, Syzmanski); Brentsville 3 (Huff, Carrico, Owen).