December 18, 2011

Huntingdon men knock off Berry for first win of the season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Huntingdon men's basketball team had been agonizingly close to victory in the first seven games of the season. Three losses against nationally ranked competition and three losses by 10 points or less were frustrating. But the Hawks continued to push forward.

The perseverance paid off on Sunday with a 79-63 win over Berry College in the Rhodes Christmas Invitational.

"You don't think one win can be that big of a deal. But when you're 0-7, it is," Huntingdon head coach Mike Pugh said. "We've been close in a lot of games. But when you keep losing, it gets to you. Getting this win helps everyone's attitude. We've got some tough games coming up in January, but it's nice to be able to go home for Christmas on a positive note."

The Hawks got a big lift from Ryan Petty, Jeremiah Thomas and Jason Varney on Sunday. The trio combined for 68 of Huntingdon's 79 points, scoring all 32 points in the first half and the first 38 points of the game for the Hawks (1-7).

Petty led all players with 26 points and seven steals, Thomas followed with 23 points and seven rebounds and Varney finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

"Those three are our primary scorers and all three of them played well and did good things for us today," Pugh said. "But it wasn't just them. A lot of our offense came off of defense. We needed the guys to step up on defense and they responded."

Pugh also praised the performance of senior Mike Kilpatrick.

"Mike's play at point guard was important for us," Pugh said. "He didn't score tonight, but we didn't need him to score. We needed him to be a leader, take care of the ball and run the offense. That's what he did."

The Hawks opened the game with a 12-2 run but led 14-12 midway through the first half. Huntingdon used a 14-2 run to open the game back up and led 32-24 at the half. In the second half, Huntingdon extended its lead to double digits and led by as many as 17 points.

Nassar Almulla led the Vikings (0-9) with 23 points, Michael Schulte added 14 points and Lake Graham finished with 10 points.

Huntingdon returns to action on Jan. 3 in the Maryville College Classic. The Hawks play Wittenberg at 4 p.m.