SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston wanted a high-level holiday basketball tournament, and director Mike Reed has delivered. And today, SC coach Vic Herbert will see just where his team stands.
After dusting off Riverside 80-48 on Friday night, the Black Eagles may face their toughest opponent of the season tonight in the first Chick-Fil-A/South Charleston Basketball Classic. Their opponent is Madison Central from Richmond, Ky., a team unsatisfied by its 31-2 record of last season.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the South Charleston Community Center, following the consolation game between Riverside and Pickerington Central, Ohio. Madison Central waylaid the latter, building a 15-point lead after three quarters en route to a 60-48 win.
Pickerington (5-4) is merely the defending Ohio Division I (yes, big-school) champion.
"[SC principal] Mike Arbogast had asked me earlier if I would put together a tournament," said Reed, an SC guidance counselor. "What I do is I start calling newspapers, such as the Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch and Lexington [Ky.] paper, and talk to the high school beat writer and say, 'Give me a team that's loaded with underclassmen,' and this is the two teams we ended up with."
Madison Central is 10-3, but the Indians have no cheap losses. First, they lost to Travis High of Richmond, Texas, home of the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron. If you haven't heard, those two are rated the top point and shooting guards in the nation, and are joining coach John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats next season.
The Indians lost to Bullitt East, then ranked second in Kentucky, and lost to top-ranked Louisville Ballard in the 16-team King of the Bluegrass tournament last week. A day after the loss to Ballard, the Indians avenged the loss to Bullitt East.
All that comes on the heels of what could have been a dream season, if not for an upset loss to Woodford County in the 11th Region final. Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr., the 20th-year coach, said the road the state's famed Sweet 16 tournament won't be any easier.
"It's kind of left a sour taste in our mouth," said Feldhaus, who was named Kentucky coach of the year by the Louisville Courier Journal. "Hopefully, it gives us a little incentive to go back and prove everybody wrong. And we pretty much have everybody back."
In battle-testing his team, Feldhaus is getting exposure for players such as Ken-Jah Bosley, who led the Indians with 18 points Friday, and Dominique Hawkins and Quan Taylor, who had 12 apiece. Hawkins has several Division I offers, Taylor likely will play in Division I after going to junior college, and Bosley is a hot NAIA property trying to raise his stock.
South Charleston owned a 48-42 victory over Riverside earlier this month, but the senior-laden Black Eagles weren't about to make the rematch look so close Friday. SC shot 55 percent, owned a 15-5 advantage in turnovers and blew the Warriors out with a 24-5 fourth quarter.
"I thought for two quarters they stayed with us," Herbert said. "They're very good, they're just not as deep as us. We kind of wore them down. Halfway through that third quarter, I thought we got on a little roll there and did a pretty good job defensively and made it hard for them to score. It was over at that point."
A.D. Cunningham led all scorers with 18 points, but the Black Eagles had plenty of contributors: Ra'Shaud Kincaid 10 points, Trevond Reese 10, Tre Clark and Kevin Williams nine each and Hunter Moles eight.
Marcus Reed had 17 points to lead Riverside, hitting three 3-pointers, but the Warriors had trouble with the Eagles' defense.
"We haven't turned it over much," Herbert said. "We were averaging about nine a game until tonight, and we're turning people over about 20 a game. That's giving us 11 or 12 extra possessions, extra shots at the baskets. And that's helping us win games."
SC scored 10 straight points after spotting the Warriors a Nick Light 3-pointer, and never led by less than six the rest of the way. Riverside kept the lead in the low double digits, trailing after three quarters 44-32. SC ran away with a 16-2 run to start the fourth quarter.
A girls game kicks off the action at 3 p.m. today with South Charleston hosting Princeton.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.