South Charleston's Brittany Gordon drives to the basket past Huntington's Chelsey Woodson.
Keke Allen got into some foul trouble. As far as adversity is concerned, that's about the only problem South Charleston had to overcome on Tuesday night.The Class AAA No. 1 Black Eagles rolled behind 28 points from Brittany Gordon as they pasted visiting Huntington 81-44.Trailing 4-2 early, South Charleston went on a 10-0 run and was never threatened again.But coaches like to nitpick, and Black Eagles coach Gary Greene certainly saw some things he would like to correct, starting with 22 turnovers, including eight in the first quarter."We didn't start out very smooth at all today," Greene said. "The turnover situation is something we've been addressing in practice. We turned it over quite a bit against Ripley. But the style of we play is kind of hectic at times and we haven't used the greatest judgment, so we have a lot of work to do."I'm proud of the kids' effort tonight. That Huntington team is a pretty good team. If we correct some things and get some of our young kids some experience, I think we'll play pretty well later on."Whatever ball handling issues SC experienced early it made up for, forcing 23 turnovers of its own and making the Highlanders pay consistently on the other end.
Meanwhile, No. 7 Huntington couldn't buy a bucket, shooting just 30 percent from the floor, including 1-of-14 from 3-point range. The Highlanders made the state title game two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but after losing starters Talequia Hamilton and Kiki Smith, have started 2-2 and seem to be trying to find their way.Coach Lonnie Lucas said it will take some time for this year's squad to gather its footing."We're going to be all right. There aren't many people feeling sorry for us," Lucas said. "It just takes a while. We knew it was going to be a long way of getting started. We had South Charleston here and we have North Marion Saturday and I've been looking forward to this week. You're only going to get better when your peers show you how bad you are."
If anyone can relate to the heartbreak of Huntington's back-to-back runner-up finishes, it's the Black Eagles, who have done the same over the past two seasons.But unlike the Highlanders, this year's squad is loaded experience in addition to talent, led by seniors Gordon, Allen, Angelica Villanueva, Sierra Moore and Alexxis Tunstalle, all starters.Gordon said taking the next step is the ultimate goal for the team."Me and Keke have been here since we were sophomores," Gordon said. "We grew up together playing on the same team. To get to the championship game and lose, it was hard on us. So I told her, 'We've got to get one this year, we've got to work hard, we've got to pick up our team up, and we're going to have to lead our team.' And that's what we're trying to do."When Allen was in the game, she was a force inside and it was easy to tell the Black Eagles ran more smoothly. Allen ended up with 17 points and a game-high 12 boards.
Allen and Gordon combined on 13-of-23 shooting from the field and 16-of-19 from the foul line."Keke is averaging double-doubles for the season so far," Greene said. "She's just strong on the boards. She gets up three times quicker than some kids. And Brittany is quarterbacking the team along with Alexxis Tunstalle. They're alternating running the point some and when Brittany gets her feet under her and dribble penetrates, she's an awfully good player."Tunstalle also had 17 for South Charleston (3-0).Abby Steele and Angel Hightower each scored 10 points to pace the Highlanders, and Dominique Gibson pitched in with nine points and nine rebounds.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org