South Charleston's Tre Clark goes up and under against Capital's Wesley Johnson.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Long after the drama had been sapped out of South Charleston's eventual 74-42 victory over Capital on Wednesday, one of the night's biggest cheers came for a score given over the public-address system at the SC Community Center.About midway into the final quarter, when announcer Mike Pickens informed the crowd that Riverside had upset state-ranked George Washington in the other half of Class AAA Region 3 Section 1, the Black Eagles fans erupted.It was that kind of night for SC.The Black Eagles (21-2), ranked No. 3 in AAA, broke open their game against the Cougars with a 16-0 run early in the third quarter and cruised into Friday's sectional championship game at home against the upstart Warriors.Capital (10-15) finished with a whopping 34 turnovers, 19 of those on steals by the Black Eagles."That's as good as we've played all year for four quarters,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert. "This one concerned me because it's a rival game. But if we play like that, with that kind of intensity, we'll be hard to beat - I don't care who we play. We'll be a hard out.''South Charleston shot exactly 50 percent and knocked down 7 of 15 from 3-point range, with a balanced scoring attack led by A.D. Cunningham (14 points), Hunter Moles (12) and reserve Brandon Knapper (10).
"A.D. played about as hard as he can play,'' Herbert said. "We got a lot of good minutes out of almost everybody tonight.''The game was often a blur, especially early, as the Cougars committed 11 turnovers and SC seven in the opening quarter."We wanted to come out hard,'' Cunningham said. "Sometimes we didn't take our time. We steal the ball and we go too fast. I know it sounds funny, but sometimes we just need to slow down.''Devyn Harris and Moles led SC's thievery with seven and five steals, respectively.
Capital got another good effort from junior guard Carrington Morris, who finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. He knocked down three straight deep 3s in the second period.Behind Morris' boardwork, the Cougars also outrebounded SC 38-27, but their shortcomings in ball-handling and shooting (33 percent) spelled doom."Our kids played hard,'' said Capital coach Carl Clark, "but we didn't get much of what we wanted done. It's bad coaching. I couldn't get them to do a good job. I didn't do the things on the bench that I should have done.''Capital hit 7 of 10 from long range in the first half, but went 0 of 7 afterward.
The Cougars lost momentum in the closing seconds of the first half when - down 39-28 and holding for a final shot - they saw SC's Rashaud Kincaid swipe the ball and pull up for a 3 to beat the buzzer. Kincaid also dished out five assists.Cunningham said the Black Eagles didn't want to see a great season go down in flames with a first-round sectional loss and postseason elimination."Coach [Ronnie] Means [a former SC standout] told us they went 21-1 one year and lost their first sectional game. He didn't want that to be us. [Riverside winning] surprised me, but anybody can be beat at any time.''Herbert was likewise surprised, but not shocked at the Riverside-GW outcome, which puts the Black Eagles and Warriors into next week's co-regionals."If you look at the teams that have given [GW] trouble, it's the really athletic teams,'' Herbert said. "Us, Beckley, Capital, Huntington. That's their four losses before tonight.''SC went without two suspended players Wednesday - one starter (Neal Brown) and a top reserve (Kevin Williams). Herbert offered no comment on their status.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.