RED JACKET, W.Va. - The Mingo Central Miners nearly punched their first ticket in the win column of the 2018-19 season on Friday night as they battled Cardinal Conference foe Herbert Hoover but fell in overtime by a score of 57-53.
"Our kids have been hit with a lot of adversity early in the season," first year coach Stan Elkins said after the game. "We've taken some difficult losses early in the year but our kids are still striving to get better. Our kids are still looking to find their sea-legs, still looking to find their confidence.
"Tonight we fought through that adversity and our kids have never given up on our team, and that is my proudest moment this year because I see that I have a great group of kids that are continuing to strive and give effort to learn to get better and that's all I can ask."
The Miners fell behind early on as the visiting Huskies came out shooting the ball well and led 14-5 after the first eight minutes of play. Central rallied back in the second frame however and took the lead for the first time in the game at 19-18 with 4:20 to go until the break on back-to-back 3's by sophomore Colton Blankenship.
Hoover quickly regained the lead back at 23-21 just a couple of minutes later and added to it to take a 27-24 lead into the halftime locker room.
MC came out of the break and immediately snatched back the lead on five straight points by sophomore Isaac Moore to start the half. After a bucket by Hoover tied the game at 29, junior Jacob May drilled back-to-back 3's to give the Miners a 35-29 lead with 3:40 left in the third.
The Huskies rallied to tie the game up at 37 all but Mingo Central then went on an 8-0 run sparked by two buckets from freshman Jarrius Jackson and a three from senior Josh Wellman to take their largest lead of the game at 45-37 with seven minutes left in regulation.
Herbert Hoover then answered with an 8-0 run of their own to tie the game up at 45 apiece with just less than three minutes to go. The Miners answered with a bucket a minute later as Blankenship hit Moore on a nice inbound pass to take a 47-45 lead with 1:50 left.
After a missed shot by Hoover, the Miners had the ball with a chance to run some clock but threw the ball away on an inbound pass and it fell into the arms of Hoover's Grant Bonner who laid it in with 50 seconds to go to tie the game back up.
Both teams would have a shot to take the lead in the last minute but neither could hit the mark and the game went to overtime.
In the extra frame the Miners trailed 53-49 until Moore's bucket with 1:50 to go brought them within two. After getting a stop, Blankenship drew a foul and calmly sank two free throws to tie the game with 54.8 seconds on the clock.
Herbert Hoover coach Josh Daniel elected to run the clock down and take the final shot and it paid dividends as a foul was called as Bonner drove to the basket with just two seconds remaining. Bonner sank both, giving the Huskies the 55-53 lead.
Coach Elkins called a timeout to draw up a play and freshman Ashton Deskins threw a baseball pass to the 6'4" Moore but it was just out of his reach and tipped out of bounds. The Miners were forced to foul again and Bonner hit both foul shots once again to reach the final score of 57-53.
"This was the best game overall we have played," coach Elkins said in the locker room. "Just a couple of mistakes and a couple of calls that didn't go our way was the difference. The game hung in the balance for a long time and our kids played with a lot of poise."
The Miners were led by Moore as he scored a team high 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds. May was next as he contributed 13 points including a trio of trifectas.
Blankenship played his best game of the young season and finished with 12 points, five assist, and four steals while Wellman hit two clutch three-pointers to finish with six points. Jackson scored five key points and provided quality minutes off the bench for the Miners who were playing without the injured Nathan May and Joseph West.
The Huskies were led by Bonner who flipped in a game high 23 points including four three-pointers and 7-10 at the charity stripe. He shot more free throws alone than the Miners did as a team. Forward George Chapman was a work horse inside for coach Daniel as he recorded a double-double finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams shot the ball well from the outside as Central hit nine three-pointers while Herbert Hoover connected on eight shots from behind the arc. HH finished 11-14 from the line while Mingo shot well hitting 7-8.
The Miners fell to 0-7 with the loss but are knocking on the door of their first win and will look to do so on Tuesday as they host the rival Tug Valley Panthers in the first game of the "Battle of Bloody Mingo" in 2019.
"You can throw everything out the door when these two teams play, it's all about heart, hustle, and hardwood," coach Elkins said of the rivalry. "You have to bring a lot of heart and bring a lot of energy; you got to match what they bring.
"It wouldn't surprise me if the game ended 25-20 with the way it has been played in the past. It will be a back and forth game where each possession counts. We're going to have to rebound the ball well as a team and just play together for 32 minutes."
The Miners will host the Panthers on Tuesday night high atop Miner Mountain with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with a junior varsity game being played prior.
Score by Quarters:
HHHS (5-2): 14 13 10 10 10 57
MCHS (0-7): 5 19 18 5 6 53
Herbert Hoover: G. Bonner 23, G. Chapman 16, J. Swecker 9, R. White 6, J. Campbell 2, M. Mullins 2, E. McGraw 0.
Mingo Central: I. Moore 17, J. May 13, C. Blankenship 12, J. Wellman 6, J. Jackson 5, M. Gray 0, A. Deskins 0.
Jarrid McCormick is a sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.