Jay Huff closed out his high school career the way every player wants to, with a state championship win. Moreover, the 6’11” senior earned Most Valuable Player honors for his performance in leading Voyager Academy (Durham, N.C.) to a 69-56 win over Winston-Salem Prep in the NCHSAA 1-A boys basketball state championship game.
Huff, part of a Virginia 2016 Class rated anywhere from no. 5 nationally (247Sports) to no. 12 nationally (Scout.com) by the four main national recruiting outlets, posted 14 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks against Winston-Salem Prep.
“It started early,” Voyager Academy head coach Mike Huff said, recalling his son’s performance in the 1A title game. “They have a very good inside player who is only 6’7” but outweighed Jay by 30 pounds. Jay blocked his shot three straight times, which kind of set the tone for the game. Definitely, he not only was blocking shots – they had him with 10 blocks, but I’d say it was at least 10 – but he also changed a lot of shots. They were 18-of-74 from the floor. On the defensive end, he was a major force. He took what was there on the offensive end. He got a lot of stuff inside. He passed the ball well. He had a really good all-around game.”
“Throughout the year, every team we played would focus on getting him out,” Coach Huff added. “There was a lot of grabbing and pushing, but he just handled it so well.”
Coach Huff scheduled tough a tough out-of-conference slate that included 4A state title contender Garner Magnet and tough 3A program Ravenscroft this year in order to prepare his team for the postseason. The plan worked.
“We made a concerted effort to schedule some tougher games,” Coach Huff said. “The plus was we were battle-tested. The minus was a lower seed in the playoffs, so we had to go to places like Weldon and East Carteret, which had 47 straight home wins before we played them [in the 1A Eastern Region semifinals). To go to those places and win tough games and then to go to Fayetteville, where we lost last year, and win [in the Eastern Region championship], it’s awesome to think about what we accomplished.”
The Vikings’ state title “is pretty incredible, actually,” Coach Huff acknowledged. “When it was over, usually you see other coaches running around, but I just wanted to sit down. I was so happy for our guys and proud of the work they put in the past four years. All that had gone into [winning a championship], it was quite a moment. It was a terrific experience.”
Sharing the experience with his son made everything even sweeter.
“That’s one of the really great parts of it,” Coach Huff said. “I just wanted him to finish on a high note, to finish playing well. To have the kind of game he had in the championship game was really special. Now that it’s over, I don’t have to get upset at him anymore and he doesn’t have to put up with me anymore (laughs). Every father and son has their moments, but 97-percent of the time this experience has been terrific.”
As one of only two players who were on Voyager Academy’s varsity squad each of the last four seasons, Jay Huff appreciated the road that was taken to capture the state title… once he stopped jumping around in a frenzied celebration, of course.
“I just jumped around. I’m not really sure what I was thinking,” he said with a laugh, describing his immediate postgame celebration.
“Me and my teammate, Nelson, were the only guys on the varsity all four years. We’ve seen the lows where we were beaten by 30 or 40 and we’ve seen the highs. It’s special for both of us to have seen it all.”
Looking Ahead to UVA
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