Valley guards Henry Barron (left) and Keyshawn Payne defend against Greenbrier West's Brandon Gwinn during Friday's game.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Valley coach Joe McCoy must feel like he's got nine starters.In Friday's 55-41 victory over Greenbrier West - another state-ranked Class A team - the unbeaten Greyhounds flashed a lot of strength off their bench.Arik McGinnis, a normal starter who was limited with the flu, hit 3 of 4 shots and scored eight points - all in the fourth quarter;Druw Bowen made 3 of 4 shots and had all seven of his points in the first half;
Dante Wilkerson had an immediate impact upon entering the game in the second quarter, hitting both his field-goal tries and producing six points, five rebounds and a steal;Keyshawn Payne hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and also dished out two key assists.
"That's one thing we talk about all the time,'' McCoy said, "and that's playing as a team and trying to get the kids to realize that we're going to play those eight, nine guys."They're all going to play about half a ballgame, and we're going to move them in and out because I feel comfortable taking any of them out and putting somebody in. We don't miss too much when you take some of the starters out.''Considering that the Greyhounds (5-0) began the game with nearly four players holding low double-figure scoring averages, the dropoff to their bench isn't as precipitous as with other teams.Raeshawn Breckenridge (13.4) currently leads the scoring, followed by 6-foot-5 freshman Zac Warden (12.2), McGinnis (9.8), Henry Barron (9.0) and Cody Winter (7.6).McCoy also thinks the extra rest for all his regulars will start to pay dividends when the team starts playing three or four times a week. Valley had two games called off by snow earlier this season and has played just five times so far."You take guys out and then they have that two-, three-minute break in between quarters,'' McCoy said, "and it goes a long way, especially in the last quarter. That's paid off for us in other games. We move them in and out, in and out and these other schools - come the fourth quarter - they're wore out and we bring fresh people in."There's pluses to it, and there's negatives to it, too. Because sometimes we get them in there and they hurry up too quick and throw the ball out of bounds and force the action. We want to make sure they know there's one ball out there and they pass it around, and not five basketballs out there.''Eddy: MoneyAt the beginning of the season, George Washington coach Rick Greene said he didn't want to get into a situation where returning all-stater and Elon recruit Luke Eddy was carrying his team every night.
At least for the first half of the season, however, it has been all Eddy all the time for the Patriots. In five of GW's first 10 games, Eddy has scored at least half the team's points.In a 62-51 win over Winfield, he poured in 44 points.During a 54-49 victory against Logan, Eddy scored 32.In last week's 65-55 loss at Huntington, he tallied 30.
Greene, though, thinks his team won't lean on Eddy as much in the coming weeks. He points to a few instances, such as last week's win at Cabell Midland and Saturday's 48-31 victory at St. Albans in which Eddy had "just'' 18 points, dropping his season scoring average to 25.3, which still leads the Mountain State Athletic Conference.In the latter game, Cameron Hoston scored eight points, Alex Lewis seven, Chris Kay six and Austin Breeden six.
"Lately, we're getting a little better at that,'' Greene said. "Against Midland, we had four guys in double figures. We're getting there. Saturday was about the most balance we've had. Eight, seven and six [by the other players] doesn't sound big, but it's really big for us."We're slowly getting there. Luke is making everybody better right now, but it's a slow process sometimes.''Besides Eddy, who averaged 16 points per game as a junior, no other returning player for the Patriots tallied more than 55 points all of last season.SC's sneaky streakBy beating Ripley on Saturday, South Charleston extended its MSAC winning streak to a remarkable 33 straight games. But that streak has a catch.During that time, the Black Eagles have lost to a pair of league opponents.Huh? How's that possible?Well, in recent years SC (and all MSAC teams) played 16 league games per season - meeting every other team once and then another at the end of the year, either in the MSAC Night of Champions or the place-winner games for those outside the top four.So the Black Eagles won their final 10 league games in the 2010-11 season (including the MSAC title game against Capital), swept all 16 last season (beating Woodrow Wilson for the MSAC championship) and their first seven this season. That makes 33.However, SC has lost in the opening round of the state tournament each of the past two years - and both defeats came at the hands of MSAC rivals. The Eagles fell to Parkersburg in the quarterfinals last season and GW in 2011. Since they came in the state tournament, those do not count as league games.(All MSAC teams lost a league game this season following the departure of Lincoln County and Greenbrier East in the offseason and the arrival of Winfield, so 15 is the limit).The Black Eagles' last MSAC loss was a memorable 103-97 three-overtime setback at Woodrow Wilson on Jan. 18, 2011 - nearly two years ago.SC has already had a couple close calls with its streak this season, beating Princeton 59-57, Riverside 48-42, Capital 69-62 in OT and Woodrow Wilson 51-44 last week in a game it led by two points in the final minute."We want to stay calm,'' said senior point guard Rashaud Kincaid, "because we've been in this situation before. Coach tells us each team is going to make their run, so we know how to handle it."The ball's always in my hands, and it's pressure, but I just try to stay calm and do the best I can to help this team win.''Fast breaksPoca's thrilling 40-39 win over Scott on Friday - decided on Noah Frampton's turnaround jumper at the buzzer - gave the Dots the lead in the Cardinal Conference. They're 5-1 in the league, Scott is 5-2 and Tolsia 4-2.Big-game alerts this week - Tuesday: Scott (8-2) at Herbert Hoover (6-3), Nicholas County (6-3) at Poca (9-1); Wednesday: Hurricane (8-2) at GW (7-3); Friday: Valley (5-0) at Buffalo (9-1), GW at Princeton (9-2), SC (9-1) at Hurricane.Top Kanawha Valley win streaks entering the week - Poca seven, Charleston Catholic five and Hurricane and South Charleston four each.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.