SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On paper, Taliah Cashwell and Alexia Wade are a freshman and sophomore, respectively. But, when it comes to playing and contributing on the court, first-year SC coach John Testa doesn't consider them underclassmen."We have been working since September and these two [Cashwell and Wade] have been working hard," Testa said. "They have been in the gym non-stop since September. They have been here long enough. In practice, I can tell them both what I want and they will do it. Basically, she isn't a freshman [Cashwell] and she [Wade] isn't a sophomore."As evidence by their play early on this season, Cashwell and Wade have both embraced the challenge by Testa with open arms.Cashwell scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals while Wade scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds as South Charleston used a 20-1 fourth quarter to defeat visiting Riverside 61-35 Thursday night."I just go out on the court and try to help my team however I can," Cashwell said. "I love to win so anytime I can help us win, then I will."As a freshman coming off the bench, Cashwell is leading SC (4-1) with a scoring average of 13.6 points. She admits that while she has enjoyed some early success, she is still learning a lot from her teammates and coach."The game is much faster in high school than middle school," Cashwell said. "I know I have to get stronger and learn more about the game of basketball, but my teammates and coaches have really helped me."Some of that help has come from fellow teammate and one of the three seniors on the squad, Alliyah Webb (11 points, eight assists, and five rebounds against Riverside).
"I feel like I have to be a good role model for them [Wade and Cashwell]," Webb said. "They look up to me as a captain. But they also make my job easier. We have to do it as a team. They are always playing hard and trying to help the team get a win.''SC scored the first basket on a Webb layup while Riverside (2-4) struggled to put its first points on the board with four turnovers on its first four possessions. But the Warriors went on an 8-0 run on two baskets from Brittany Wood and a basket each from Kara Knapp and Rachael Mills. At the end of the first quarter, the Warriors led 11-10.SC started the second quarter on an 11-0 run keyed by six points from Wade, three points from Cashwell and a basket from Laci Jarrell. During that stretch, Wade hit three straight baskets."The first shot of the night that I shot was off," Wade said. "Coach [Testa] told me that the ball was in the palm of my hand. I took it in and prepared myself to shoot better. I was able to hit some key shots."At the half, SC led just 28-20 after Knapp kissed a half-court shot off the glass as the buzzer sounded.But the Warriors would get no closer than six points in the second half as they struggled to score often, especially in the fourth quarter as they only scored on a free throw from Cassidy Farley."It definitely got away from us," said first-year coach Scott Garretson. "I felt like we played with them for three quarters. We played really hard, but things got a little out of hand in the fourth quarter. It seemed like everything that could happen bad at once did."
Wood led the Warriors with 16 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks while Knapp contributed six points, three assists and three steals.