Raiders with the broken hearts: Huntington pushes through

TOTAL FOCUS: Huntington coach Mack Jones, his team and a packed grandstand, with fans on their feet, watch Friday night’s intense state quarterfinal game. (Photo by JOHN PENROD).


Desmond Washington had just gotten to the Huntington High School locker room after lunch on Thursday when he received a message on his phone. He didn’t believe the message. He couldn’t believe the message.

The message read, “Devin got shot.”

“I thought it was a joke,” he said.

It wasn’t. Devin Myers, Washington’s teammate and a starter on the Huntington boys’ basketball team, had been fatally shot in the Queensborough neighborhood just after noon. Myers, whose 18th birthday was a day earlier, had checked out of school to get a haircut.

“I thought he was here (at school) the whole time,” Washington said.

In the blink of an eye, everything changed. Thursday was supposed to be the day the Raiders made final preparations for Friday’s home game against Beau Chene in the quarterfinals of the LHSAA Class 4A Boys’ Basketball Championship.

It wasn’t supposed to be a day to start considering funeral arrangements.

Everyone was in shock. No one knew what to do. Can we play a basketball game the day after one of our players has been killed?

Huntington coach Mack Jones called Beau Chene coach Christopher Charlot and discussed “maybe cancelling” the game. Jones gathered with a number of preachers and prayed. He talked to Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree.

Then he talked to his players.

“We 100 percent wanted to play,” Washington said.

So, in a packed house at the Huntington gym Friday night, the Raiders faced more than just the Beau Chene Gators. They had to play through unbelievable grief. And, boy, did they play.

The Raiders:

• Defeated the Gators 69-55

• Never trailed in the game

• Fought a fierce Beau Chene comeback attempt in the fourth quarter led by DeVondrake Arvie, who finished with a game-high 27 points

When Arvie and the Gators cut the lead to 11 in the final two minutes, the Raiders — those young men fighting through tears — sealed the deal. And when DeCedric Webb sank a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, the crowd went crazy. He then ran to the middle of the court, fell to the floor face-down, and let it all pour out — every emotion he had been trying to keep deep inside for the past 24 hours.


Webb and Devin Myers were first cousins who grew up side-by-side — always together. “We stayed at the same house,” Webb said.

When the Huntington line-up was announced before tipoff, you couldn’t hear a single name above the noise from the excited crowd, especially when Webb went through the players’ line wearing jersey No. 30.

“It was special,” Webb said.

Myers’ jersey No. 30 was everywhere in the Huntington gym Friday night — on banners, the front of T-shirts, the back of sweatshirts, on signs in the crowd.

It was fitting that Webb made the first basket of the game. When Arvie scored off a steal to tie the game at 2-2, the Huntington coach called a timeout.

“We discussed it,” Webb said. “We said we had to push through for No. 30.”

Webb came out of the timeout and quickly scored to put the Raiders up 4-2. They never relinquished their lead.

After taking a 20-12 advantage through one quarter, the Raiders were cold the first two minutes of the second and watched their lead begin to evaporate. With an 8-1 run sparked by Arvie that put the Gators within one at 21-20 with two minutes to go in the half, Webb, Washington, and Kentravis Green cooled any hopes of a Beau Chene comeback by putting up eight unanswered points.

Kameron Evans’ three-pointer at the buzzer brought the Huntington fans to their feet and gave the Raiders a 32-26 halftime lead. Evans, the quarterback on the Raiders football team, had not played all basketball season. He went to Jones and asked to play to honor his very good friend, Myers.


Kalea Dean moved around the Huntington gym Friday night, watching the game from a number of seats in the stands. When a moment of silence was held in Myers’ memory before tipoff, the Huntington girls’ basketball star fought back tears.

She understood just how the boys’ team felt, trying to play through the grief. A day earlier, just one hour before her team took the court for their 4A semifinal game against Warren Easton in Marsh Madness in Hammond, the Lady Raiders were informed of Myers’ stunning death.

There are no words to describe fully what Dean did on the court following the news of her cousin’s passing. The Lady Raiders’ senior power forward, who finished with a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, scored 21 in the second half. With just over six minutes left to play, Huntington pulled even at 42-42, but never got on top and the No. 1-seeded Lady Eagles held on for a 59-55 victory.

“I thought our girls did everything they possibly could under the circumstances,” Huntington girls’ coach Brian Shyne said afterward. “(Myers) is kin to a lot of the girls on this team. For them to have the strength and resiliency to go out there and play … I am proud of them. I told them it wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about playing for Devin. They did that.”

Shyne, who was at Friday night’s game to witness the boys’ team try to do exactly the same thing, could be seen walking around the court holding a framed picture of Myers.


Jones was not surprised Friday night – neither by his team’s gritty performance on the court nor by the incredible support in the stands.

“That’s the way we’ve played all year,” said the Huntington coach. “People may not have been aware of how talented we are this year, because we played a lot of games away from home. But these guys can play. Words can’t describe how I feel.”

When Huntington (19-4) meets No. 1-seed George Washington Carver (31-5) Wednesday at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, it will be the Raiders’ first semifinals appearance since 2009.

Friday night’s victory gives them their first chance to get to the championship game in four trips to the Top 28. It was much more than just a triumph for Huntington, however.

“Kids came from all over to support us tonight,” said Jones. “They came from Byrd, from Shreve, from everywhere. We did this together. This was a win for Shreveport.”

Sad endings, one senseless, one inevitable, both heartbreaking