SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston got the pace it wanted early - a frenetic one - and rode the momentum all the way to a 56-45 victory over Winfield Thursday evening at the SC Community Center.Senior guard Rashaud Kincaid popped in 17 points to lead the Black Eagles (15-1) to their 10th straight victory this season and their 38th in a row in a Mountain State Athletic Conference game. They came up with several of their 18 steals early to take control and never led by fewer than seven points over the final 31/2 quarters."We wanted to come out and play hard,'' Kincaid said. "Coach told us to play good defense, and everything will fall into place.''Three straight times Winfield (10-8) failed to get the ball across halfcourt in the opening moments against pressure defense and SC cashed in each to take an 8-2 lead. The Generals had turned it over 16 times by the break and trailed 31-23.SC especially clamped down on Winfield's top scorer, Zach Fisher, who didn't score until 3:48 remained in the third quarter with his team down 40-27. Fisher, who entered the game averaging 15 points, finished with just five."We knew they had two great shooters in Fisher and [Bear] Bellomy,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert, "and we were more concerned with them. We let them get loose a couple times but for the most part we held them in check."My coaches and I all agree on the same thing - if you want to win in big games, you've got to guard, and that's why we spend 70 percent of our time of what we do in practice every day on defense. Our defense was big [tonight]. We're only giving up 46 points a game, and we held them to about that.''Winfield kept battling and managed to shave its deficit from 14 down to seven on a pair of Fisher free throws with 49 seconds left, but Kincaid was true on a pair at the line at the other end to make it 54-45 and SC's Trevond Reese capped the scoring with a low-post move off a feed from Kevin Williams.Williams provided a lift off the bench for SC after being held out of the Black Eagles' previous game. He had two big baskets in the fourth quarter and also chipped in six rebounds and three steals.
"Kevin has had some struggles this year with us,'' Herbert said, "and I'm not going to get into that, but every time he's had one of those struggles, he hasn't got his head down. He's come back and kept a good attitude and done what we've asked him to do. He's our best defensive rebounder and it's good to have him in the game to get on the glass and make sure the other team only gets one shot. He plays hard all the time.''A.D. Cunningham added 12 points for SC. Hunter Moles grabbed a team-high seven rebounds as the two teams battled to a 36-all draw on the boards. Moles also matched Reese with four steals.For Winfield, Chris Turner scored 11 points and Bellomy 10. Turner turned in a double-double with 11 rebounds, one off Brock Pence's team-best total of 12. The Generals played minus two regulars - out for "team reasons,'' according to coach Pat McGinnis."Their pressure is good,'' McGinnis said of the Black Eagles, "and we had to move Fisher to point guard, and he's not going to be as productive at that spot. We like him as the 2 [guard] because he's coming off more screens and stuff."Everybody's doing that [trying to take him out of the game] and it's a credit to him that everybody is all over him, but it doesn't help us much when we don't get him open.''McGinnis realizes his team's 23 turnovers helped fire up SC's attack and put the Generals into catch-up mode all night.
"You look at the mistakes we made,'' he said, "and it's partly from their pressure and from us not getting in the right place sometimes for the set we were in. Give them credit. They're No. 1, and they're not No. 1 for nothing, you know. It's a good game for us going into tournament time.''SC needs to win one of its final two MSAC West games - at Nitro Saturday or home against Spring Valley Wednesday - to earn a spot in the title game at the MSAC Night of Champions.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.