HUNTINGTON - Huntington High's journey to defend its AAA girls state basketball championship got off to a rocky start Tuesday with a 72-32 loss to Parkersburg in the season opener at the Lucas-Archer Gym.
With only two returning starters from last year's championship team, Huntington's turnover total for the game matched its point total.
Huntington (0-1, 0-1 Mountain State Athletic Conference) got 13 points from the lone senior on the team, Camryn Michallas, in the losing effort and the Highlanders were within three points of Parkersburg (2-0, 1-0) at the end of the first quarter.
The Big Reds opened the second period with a 14-0 run that ended when junior Erin Crawford made a free throw to pull the Highlanders within 27-11 with 3:11 to go in the first half. The only field goal by Huntington High in that period came with less than :20 seconds left in the first half on a layup by Tia Wooding.
"That's a good ball club," Huntington head coach Lonnie Lucas said of Parkersburg. "We played them last year with the same kids and you know what kind of team we had last year and we only beat them by six.
"Part of it was the first game jitters but we got to get better and we will."
Parkersburg was led by center Maddie Mace who scored 25 points on the night to lead all scorers. Mace recorded 10 of Parkersburg's 14 points during the run in the second quarter that gave the Big Reds the distance they needed to put Huntington away.
The Highlanders also had 10 points from Madison Slash, one of five sophomores on the Huntington roster. Another sophomore, Wooding, recorded six points for Huntington in the losing effort.
Huntington's next game will be another home matchup Thursday against Parkersburg South.
PARKERSBURG: 13 19 27 13 - 72: Leggett 3, Kirby 13, Clark 3, Wilson 11, Mace 25, Dudley 5, Martin 2, Kupfner 5, Richards 5.
HUNTINGTON: 10 3 10 9 - 32: Michallas 13, Crawford 1, Slash 10, Wooding 6, Jackson 2