PDT Sports Writer
MINFORD — Last month, Trey Kelley inadvertantly challenged one of the top high school basketball programs through social media and was called out on the tweet.
Monday night, Kelley and his Minford teammates made good on their word and hosted Huntington (WV) Prep in the season opener for the homestanding Falcons. In front of a standing-room only crown, they learned firsthand how the Irish are deserving of the credit as Minford was handed a 119-35 nonconference loss to open its season.
Huntington Prep’s JaQuan Lyle led all scorers with 41 points as he was one of five Irish to reach double figures. The Falcons could not find a way to get out of a 12-0 hole to start the game.
“We definitely came out intimidated but as the game went on, we just started playing basketball,” Minford coach Josh Shoemaker said. “It was clear cut who the best team was but I was very proud of our kids and how they performed, they played hard. We had some players out there tonight also.”
Brandon Rowe led the Falcon charge with a team-high 16 points, including his team’s first seven points of the contest, on 6-of-16 shooting from the floor. He was one of three sophomores, along with Kelley and Jared Alley, to start in the game.
“I just came out with the mindset that I knew these guys were good so I came out thinking I’m just going to have fun and play hard,” Rowe said. “Shots were falling tonight so I just went from there, my confidence went up and I just kept going.”
Minford did not attempt its first shot of the contest until 1:46 had ticked off the clock. By that point, Huntington Prep had registered the first eight points of the night.
Before Cody Stapleton fired his team’s initial attempt to the basket, Lyle had tallied the first six points for the Irish.
“It’s one of those things, you never know when you’re playing these types of schools,” Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. “We tried to get as much of a scouting report as we could but it’s difficult not knowing. We had a game plan and we were just going to come in and pressure early to see how they would handle it.”
Rowe’s triple stopped the bleeding at 12-3 and but his second-chance basket late in the first quarter only trimmed the deficit to 26-5, the final points for the Falcons before Miles Bridges’ basket closed the stanza.
Once the jitters wore off, Shoemaker was pleased to see his team’s aggression and attack toward the basket.
“We weren’t scared to try to play them and that was the whole key, just get better from this,” Shoemaker said. “…The goal was to try to find a shot any way possible.”
Kelley’s lone basket came in the second quarter when he knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a 35-10 affair. Although it was a struggle inside, Kelley looked on the positive side of things.
“I felt like we had fun tonight,” Kelley said.
The Irish cracked the century mark on a Bridges’ field goal midway through the fourth quarter. When asked after the game if he was going to change his team’s social media policy, Shoemaker smiled and laughed.
“This is something, a once-in-a-lifetime event and we had a good time with it,” Shoemaker said.
If he had to do things all over again, Kelley said he would do it all over again.
Minford will start SOC II play Friday night in a home game with Waverly. Shoemaker said the fun ended Monday night and Tuesday’s practice was to start focusing on the Tigers.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Huntington (WV) Prep 28 28 31 32 — 119
Minford 5 10 9 11 — 35
Huntington Prep — Gill-Ceasar 7-0-14, Gandia 2-0-5, Perkins 1-0-3, Vitiello 1-2-5, Lyle 16-3-41, Delgado 5-2-12, Bridges 9-0-18, Bryant 4-2-10, Serena 1-0-3, Cook 3-2-8, Totals 49-11-119.
Minford — Miller 1-0-3, Stapleton 2-0-6, Alley 1-0-2, Rowe 6-2-16, Kelley 1-0-3, Gullion 2-1-5, Totals 13-3-35.
3-Point Goals — Huntington Prep 10 (Lyle 6, Gandia, Perkins, Vitiello, Serena); Minford 6 (Stapleton 2, Rowe 2, Miller, Kelley).
Records — Huntington Prep 8-1; Minford 0-1.