DURHAM — After Huntington (W.Va.) coach Lloyd McGuffin watched his team rally for a 73-66 victory over Artesia (Lakewood, Calif.) at Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday, he learned that his second-ranked high school basketball team could be moving up to No. 1.
"We'll embrace it," he said, upon hearing the news that top-ranked St. Benedict (Newark, N.J.) had lost.
If so, getting there was not easy as the Highlanders trailed 40-30 at the half. At that point, Huntington (16-0) had made only 1 of 12 3-point attempts and was outrebounded 28-14.
Led by O.J. Mayo, Huntington fought back.
"You've got to be able to overcome bumps on the road and adversity," McGuffin said. "I think these guys stepped up and proved that tonight.
"We just said we're going to come out and 'do it.' O.J. said there's no way we're going to lose this game."
The fact that Mayo played at all was somewhat of a surprise. The 6-foot-5 Mayo, widely regarded as the country's top senior, had been suspended for two games after an on-court incident Friday. A court injunction reinstated Mayo, who arrived in Durham one hour before tipoff.
"We're like a family," Mayo said. "When it's adverse, we like to get closer together.
"They were prepared to play the whole game without me."
Mayo, who finished with 19 points, scored five of his team's 10 points in a 10-0 run over a 2:12 span in the third quarter that knotted the score at 49, and the Highlanders took it from there.
Malik Story led Artesia (20-2) with 21 points.