Wahconah's Huban Scores 1,000th in Dramatic Fashion, Leading Comeback Win
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. -- It is hard to overstate the impact that Kevin Huban has had on the Wahconah Regional High School athletic program.
It’s just as hard to imagine a more impactful way for the Wahconah senior to hit a major athletic milestone.
After leading his team back from a 20-point deficit, Huban drove the lane with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter, drawing contact and earning two free throws.
He stepped to the line, calmly drained the first shot and gave his team a 65-64 lead that it never relinquished in a 69-66 win at Monument Mountain that gave Wahconah its 10th win and a berth in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
Oh, and in hitting that foul shot, he also happened to score the 1,000th point of his standout career.
“My coach told me when I was 40 points away, so I knew it was up and coming,” Huban said. “But at the time, we were [9-2] so our primary focus was to make Western Mass. That was all that was on our minds. And you should have heard in the locker room there. We were all so relieved that we were in Western Mass. It was great.”
Huban needed 30 points to get 1,000 going into Saturday’s game. A makeable number for the three-sport all-star, but not a gimme by any means.
He went into half-time with 15 points and his team down by nine. His total was 23, and the deficit just two, by the end of the third quarter.
Three minutes into the fourth, he drove the lane for a bucket to get Wahconah within three at 63-60. Two minute later, he drove to the basket again to give his team its first lead since it was up, 2-1, making it 64-63 with three minutes left … and giving him 999 career points.
Huban said he did not know how close he was. He was focused on how close the game was.
“During the game, I had no clue where I was, which was for the better,” Huban said. “I was just playing with my teammates, and they were doing all the dirty work. But when I made that free throw, I had no clue what was going to happen.
“What I did know was that we took the lead when I hit that. So that made it more special for all of us.”
There still was important business to be done.
Point 1,001 made it a two-point lead.
At the other end, Tom O’Connor ripped down one of his 17 rebounds to get the ball back to Wahconah.
Luke Hescock’s offensive rebound extended the next possession, which ended in a Huban putback to make it a four-point margin.
Monument’s Zach Goffin scored in the post with 42 seconds left to get the Spartans with a bucket.
The teams then traded empty trips.
Wahconah was able to run some clock and got an inbounds play at half court with 5 seconds on the clock. Monument committed two fouls in 1.4 seconds to get the visitors to the line with 3.3 on the clock.
Aidan Trager made the front end of a one-and-one to push the lead to 69-68. But he missed the second, and Dion Brown (20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) grabbed the rebound and called timeout.
The Spartans inbounded the ball and it went out off Wahconah at midcourt. After another Monument Mountain timeout, the Spartans got the ball to Brown on the left side with a chance to tie, but his shot was just off the mark, allowing Wahconah to celebrate the win and the tourney ticket -- in short, one grand night.
“We had Connor [Hanavan] trying to set a screen on Dion’s man, along with Caden [Gidarakos], and then Connor was going to pop to the top of the key, too,” Monument Mountain coach Randy Koldys said. “But Dion kind of took a different route. He had an option of going corner or going wing. He went wing, and he caught the ball. I was hoping he’d draw some contact there, but the kid missed him. They did a good job of avoiding the foul right there at the end.”
At the beginning of the night, it was all about the Spartans.
Monument Mountain celebrated a coach and three standout athletes from its past -- Stephen Piazzo, Matthew McMenamy, Jennifer Twiss and Sarah Mead -- with induction in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony.
Perhaps inspired by the accomplishments of their predecessors, the current Spartans jumped out to a 22-10 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Monument then started the second quarter with an 11-3 run that ended when Brown fed Goffin in the post to make it 33-13 with just more than five minutes left in the first half.
Soon after, Brown picked up his third foul of the game, opening the door a crack for Wahconah.
“Certainly, that was a big moment,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “My message was simple in my timeouts: We had to get it under 10 before the half. I really felt that was the key, and we were down nine at the half.
“I set that as the expectation because I really felt like: They’re at home, they made some tough shots early. We’ve got to weather the storm. Against a good team, on their home court, they’re going to make runs. And they made a heck of a run in the first half.”
Hescock scored with an assist from O’Connor to start a 19-8 run for Wahconah to the end of the half.
O’Connor had another assist, Huban scored a pair of buckets, and Hescock (15 points, 10 rebounds) scored the last four points for Wahconah to make it 41-32 in the locker room.
“That third foul is a big call,” Koldys said. “The referees did a great job tonight. It was a hard game to referee.
“When they make that call, that puts us in a little different spot. … One of the things we need to do a better job of is playing without Dion if he does get in foul trouble and have a little more confidence in ourselves and do some things we need to do offensively when he’s not in the game.”
Wahconah rode the momentum of its second-quarter rally to storm out of the locker room with eight straight points, getting within one at 41-40 when Griffin Salvini (nine points) drove the right wing with 5:30 left in the third.
Brown hit a triple to end the 8-0 run, and Monument righted the ship, getting up by seven when Brown set up Gidarakos (10 points) in transition to make it 56-49 with about a minute left in the third.
But Salvini scored with an assist from O’Connor and got the and-one with 34 seconds left, and Huban scored to get Wahconah within two, 56-54, after three quarters.
Monument Mountain’s biggest lead of the fourth was five points when Hanavan set up Nicholas Robbins (nine points) for a basket to make it 63-58.
But moments later, Huban drove the lane to cut that lead back to three, and a bucket from Hescock made it 63-62, setting the stage for Huban to score his 999th point and give Wahconah its first lead since the opening minute of the game.
Signficantly, eight of Huban’s 10 fourth-quarter points -- including the milestone free throw -- came as the result of him going hard to the basket.
“That’s his game,” Belcher said. “He’s dangerous off the bounce, and he’s a good free throw shooter. He’s certainly made some big 3s for us this year, but it was kind of cool to see him get it that way, absolutely.”
Wahconah (10-3) will look to improve its tournament seed starting with Tuesday’s home game against Drury.
Monument Mountain (9-5) goes to Lee on Friday in search of its 10th win and a ticket to the tournament.