Woodrow turns the tables on SC
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The last time they met, South Charleston left Woodrow Wilson doubting itself following 21 turnovers and a third-quarter collapse.
This time, there was no doubt.
The trio of Donte Nabors, Andrew Johnson and Chase Hancock carried the Flying Eagles through all sorts of potential mayhem Saturday night and they departed the South Charleston Community Center with a resounding 77-60 victory over SC in the Mountain State Athletic Conference boys championship game. A near-capacity crowd estimated at 1,700 attended.
The outcome gave the Flying Eagles a bit of payback for a 51-44 loss to SC earlier this season in Beckley and a setback to the Black Eagles in last year's MSAC Night of Champions title game. It also halted South Charleston's remarkable 40-game winning streak in MSAC games.
"They've kind of been a thorn in our side,'' said Woodrow coach Ron Kidd. "That's only the third time I've beat South Charleston since I've been coaching. It's a great feeling.''
The Flying Eagles (17-4), ranked No. 3 in West Virginia Class AAA, extended their winning streak to 13 games and halted the 13-game run of the No. 2 Black Eagles (18-2).
They did so with an unrelenting attack that scored as many points in the first half on Saturday (44) as they did in the entire first game against SC. Nabors led the way Saturday with 25 points, Hancock with 19 and Johnson 15.
"We knew it would be a great matchup, No. 2 in the state against No. 3, and we had to redeem ourselves from last year and earlier this year,'' said Johnson, who also dished out seven assists.
"Down there, we kind of jumped on them and we gave them life in the third [quarter] and they fought back in the third. That's what killed us. Today, we wanted to come out after halftime - the first three minutes - and let them know it wasn't going down like the last game.''
SC, which trailed 44-31 at the break and by as many as 16 in the second half, shaved its deficit back to six points when Devyn Harris drained a 3-pointer with 4:45 remaining in the game to make it 61-55.
Woodrow, though, went on an immediate 12-1 run to put it out of reach, with Nabors supplying seven of those points. He swiped the ball and went coast-to-coast, collared a teammate's blocked shot and sped the length of the floor for a layup and also hit three free throws in that stretch.
"I think we were playing our style of basketball,'' Kidd said. "When we played them the first time, I thought we played the way they played. This time, we played the way we play. We kind of forced them into an uptempo game, and that helped us a whole lot. That's the way we want to play.''
With SC constantly having to scrap from behind, several of its players worked their way into foul trouble and three fouled out in the final four minutes - first Rashaud Kincaid, then A.D. Cunningham and Trevond Reese.
Like with everything else on Saturday, Woodrow answered the call at the foul line, sinking 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter and 22 of 29 for the game.
"We told our kids at the half that we're only giving up 47 points a game,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert, "and they nearly had that at the half. It was their night. You've got to hand it to Beckley. They were on fire from 3, at the foul line.''
SC's trademark pressure defense did help force many of Woodrow's 18 turnovers, but the Black Eagles gave several of those possessions right back - and more - committing 22 turnovers of their own, including seven charging fouls.
"Our kids had to be gunshy going to the basket,'' Herbert said. "The thing about is that we should be smart enough when we see it happen the first couple of times, we should know they're going to call it, and not just go barreling in there. I'm sure [Woodrow's players] were prepared for it. They were looking for it.''
Hancock grabbed a dozen rebounds to lead Woodrow Wilson to a 39-33 edge off the boards. Kevin Williams came off the bench to land eight for SC and Cunningham had seven.
Cunningham also scored 13 points, one behind Harris' team high. Reese provided 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Even with the end of all their streaks and missing out on becoming back-to-back MSAC champs, Herbert didn't want his players to lose sight of the fine season they're having.
"At 18-2, it's a heck of a year,'' Herbert said. "Yeah, it's a setback, but it shows us things we've got to get better and work on to be where we want by the end of the season. We played hard tonight, but Beckley was the better team.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.