ELLENBORO, W.Va. – History was made in Ellenboro on Thursday.
The Ritchie County boys basketball team — playing in just its third-ever game in the region round, and coming off just its second-ever sectional title — isn’t done playing, just yet.
Ritchie County built up a 15-point lead by halftime, and even after Wirt County cut into the deficit in the third quarter, the Rebels never lost control.
Ethan Haught, with his father and head coach, Rick, barking instructions on the sideline, led the way with a game-high 18 points, with twelve of those points coming after halftime.
“No tests tomorrow!” Rick Haught told the student section after he cut down the nets, following his team’s electrifying 59-33 victory over visiting Wirt County.
“Really happy for Ritchie County High School, for the community, and these kids for what they did tonight,” Haught said after the game. “It is (special) because, we’ve never done this before. And so, this is the one where people say, ‘You hear the kids are going to states?’ So, I’m really happy for them.”
As he should be. The Rebels dominated on both sides of the ball. Ritchie County held Wirt to ten points or fewer in three of the four quarters.
The Rebels also had three different players score in double-figures, while the Tigers didn’t have a player score more then nine points. The younger Haught led with 18 points, while Wyatt Flesher and Graden McKinney each scored 12 points.
Ritchie County also made six threes as a team, while holding Wirt County to just one made shot from beyond the arc.
“It’s crazy just being able to accomplish something you’ve never done before with (my dad),” Ethan Haught said. “It’s just crazy.”
Haught says he’s been down to the state tournament many times before as a fan, meaning he’s got an idea of what things look like, and the environment at the Charleston Coliseum. This time, though, his admission to the tournament will be free, after he and his teammates punched their ticket Thursday.
“I’ve always thought it would be really cool to play on that court. It looks awesome. I just can’t wait to go down there and play,” he said.