Huskies back on winning streak

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – Well, that didn’t take long. A day after their seven game win streak came to an end, the Helena Huskies have already started a new one winning their second game in less than 24 hours.

Helena (14-4) ended the streak in the first round of the Big Orange Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 27, when they lost to Gadsden City by a final of 59-47, which moved them to the loser’s bracket in the tournament. That set up a matchup with Anniston later Tuesday night in which they won 60-58 in comeback fashion. They extended the newly found win streak to two games and nine of their last 10 after taking down Carver 55-35 on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

The big difference maker from their first matchup on Tuesday with the Titans and a matchup 24 hours later with the Rams was the lack of Turnovers. The Huskies played a little sloppy against Gadsden City turning the ball over on several occasions, which put them behind the eight ball causing them to battle back the entire game. In Wednesday’s matchup with Carver, they limited their turnovers and looked much better.

Helena started the game strong with a 3-pointer from Justin Stuckey on the Huskies first possession. Each team traded layups over the next couple of possessions, but two Carver turnovers to none by Helena led to Helena grabbing an early 7-4 advantage. Carver hit a three to tie it, but Helena answered with a dunk from Jon Brown and a 3-pointer from Richard Fitts to go up 12-7. Each team scored one more time as the Huskies took a 13-9 lead into the second quarter.

The first play of the second quarter summed up how ready and focused Helena was to play. In between the quarters, Huskies’ head coach Chris Laatsch drew up the perfect play call, which his players executed to perfection. Helena inbounded the ball to the top of the key, then a backdoor screen was set as Brown snuck down the baseline and leaped through the air to catch a pass and throw down the alley-oop dunk.

Over the next few minutes of the second quarter, Helena broke the Rams press easily for a basket and got 3-pointer off of another perfectly executed play as they went on a 12-2 run. Both teams added two more points and the Huskies found themselves up 25-13 at the half.

Coming out of the locker room, Helena didn’t let up even with the lead. They turned the pressure up forcing several turnovers and pushing the ball up court for fast-break opportunities and when they missed a shot it seemed like somebody was there for the offensive board. They used this strong effort to start the first two minutes of the third quarter on a 10-0 run and eventually extended the run to 19-0 as they jumped up 42-13.

Carver went on a 9-2 run to end the quarter to give themselves a little bit of hope and trim the Helena lead to 44-22.

The Rams continued the run into the fourth quarter eventually going on a 17-2 run, but even with that run they still trailed 46-30 with just a few minutes remaining. Helena finished the game strong answering Carvers run with a 9-5 run to seal the 55-35 win.

It was clear the Huskies came to play with a purpose and they executed for the most part to perfection. Three Helena players scored in double figures as Stuckey led the way with 13 points and Brown and Tolbert added 12 and 11, respectively.

The Huskies will play in the consolation bracket championship game against Fayette County at 3:30 tomorrow at Hoover High School.