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Posted on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Antonio Henry turns the tide as Huron wins rematch against Pioneer, 57-49

By Kyle Austin

Antonio Henry made the pass, and didn’t need to turn and watch what would happen next.

With two minutes left in the third quarter against Pioneer, the Huron point guard made a pass from the lane to a wide open Brian Walker behind the arc.

Before the ball had even left Walker’s hand, Henry was running down the floor pumping his fist in celebration.

After leaving Walker’s hand, it swished through the hoop.

“I got great confidence in him,” Henry said. “He’s a shooter, and I knew that he was going to knock down that shot.”

It was that kind of night for Huron, which was hot from its home court, stingy on defense and played with confidence throughout in topping Pioneer, 57-49.

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Walker’s 3-pointer came with Pioneer on a five-point run and starting to creep back into the game, down by 13. But starting with the 3 and ending with an Xavier Cochran bucket at the buzzer, Huron finished the third quarter on a 9-0 run to go up by 22 entering the final frame.

“It was a good night,” Henry said. “We started hitting some big shots. It just came together, and we played really good together.”

Henry led all Huron scorers with 18 points, and ran the Huron offense to an efficient night from the point guard spot.

“I think the sign of a really good player is he makes his teammates better, and I think Antonio does that on the floor," Huron coach Waleed Samaha said. "He creates opportunities for his teammates. I think that’s important, it’s important to have a point guard that can create offense for his teammates.”

Cochran added 13 for Huron (8-5, 6-2 SEC Red). Aedan York had 20 points to lead Pioneer, and Tevis Robinson had 12.

Henry’s performance came in his third game back from a month-long absence. That absence included Huron’s 17-point loss to Pioneer Jan. 18.

“It was a tough time, but I just wanted to be there for the team and show encouragement," Henry said. "They pushed along, and they took a big 'L' to Pioneer, but they picked it up and got back to work.”

While Huron had one of its best players back for the rematch, Pioneer had only half of one of its best players.

Pioneer senior forward Jibreel Hussein, who came into the game averaging 16.8 points per game, managed only five Friday night as a shin injury suffered Jan. 29 against Skyline limited his mobility and his minutes.

“He was hampered worse tonight than he has been in any game,” Pioneer coach Rex Stanczak said. “I could tell in warmups it didn’t look good.”

Both Hussein and Pioneer point guard Duane Simpson-Redmond, who has a knee injury, sat most of the fourth quarter. Stanczak said both will be shut down until next Thursday’s practice.

The combination of Huron gaining Henry and Pioneer (11-4, 6-2 SEC Red) losing Hussein was enough to change the tide in the second matchup.

“You look on their end, Antonio Henry does not play the first time against us, was the best player on the floor tonight,” Stanczak said. “We had a very hard time guarding him, he created a ton for them.

“And then Jibreel was not even half of Jibreel on their end. It works both ways.”

Huron took a one-point lead into the second quarter, before exploding for a seven-point run in the first 43 seconds of the frame. The River Rats tacked on four more in the next 36 seconds, while forcing three Pioneer turnovers during the stretch.

“I think what turned the tide for us is our defensive pressure,” Samaha said. “When we defend like that, we’re going to have success.”

From that point on, Pioneer didn’t get closer than 10 points of the lead until less than a minute remained.

The Huron-Pioneer regular season split means that both teams are two games behind Temperance Bedford with four games left in SEC Red play.

But both have another shot at knocking off the Kicking Mules, as does Skyline, before the conference season is out.

“We’ve got to win out and get Bedford here and get some help,” Samaha said. “We need Pioneer or Skyline to knock them off, so we’ve got a chance here on the 26th.”

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.