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Pat Dailey | Special to The Journal Gazette
Huntington’s Tyler Ault shoots around Southeastern (Fla.)’s Timothy Mitchell on Wednesday.

Foresters bow out of NAIA

– Turns out the scouting report Huntington gathered on Southeastern (Fla.) actually didn’t do the Foresters much good. There was no simulating in practices what point guard Derek Hinen and his backcourt mates encountered from the Fire on Wednesday.

Huntington committed 16 turnovers and was outscored by 15 points in the second half while falling to Southeastern 84-76 in the first round of the NAIA Division II men’s tournament.

“Their athleticism is unbelievable,” said Hinen, who had seven points and four turnovers. “You can’t prepare for that kind of speed and athleticism. We weren’t in position to make plays. Credit their defense, though. They took us out of our rhythm. We knew they were going to press but didn’t know how athletic they were going to be.”

Southeastern waited until the start of the second half to apply full-court pressure, completely turning around what had been Huntington’s kind of game for the first 20 minutes. The Foresters went into the half leading 36-29.

But the Fire stormed to 55 points in the second half alone. Huntington came into the game giving up an average of 65 points.

So explosive was Southeastern that Huntington couldn’t keep pace, even while shooting 57 percent from the field in the second half.

“We had a poor second half,” coach Ty Platt said. “We turned the ball over too many times. We let their (defensive) pressure dictate what we were going to do. We got back on our heels. They threw us off our rhythm that we had in the first half. Consequently, we were playing a little afraid and hesitant. We had some guys who have typically played pretty well throughout the year not play well today.”

Huntington actually shot worse in the first half, 45 percent, while establishing its seven-point halftime lead. The Foresters were up by as much as 11.

“We were executing our sets and dictating the tempo in the first half,” Platt said. “Then, it was completely opposite in the second half.”

Southeastern point guard Dwayne Johnson was a difference-maker. He scored 29 points.

“He hit some tough shots,” Platt said. “That’s why he’s one of the 12 guys on the (NAIA) Division II all-star team.”

Huntington center Shane Merryman concluded his career by reaching 2,000 points. He had 28 points and nine rebounds. He finished with 2,025 career points.