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Fast start carries SC girls past GW 56-38

Chip Ellis
SC's Aaliyah Dunham dribbles past GW's Lilly Ash (34) and Hailey Stewart (3).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston took out another state-ranked team Tuesday night.Freshman guard Aaliyah Dunham scored 20 points as the Black Eagles built an early lead and cruised to a 56-38 victory over host George Washington. A crowd of about 300 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup.SC (3-1) knocked off Logan, which was tied for second in the Associated Press Class AAA preseason poll, on Thursday, then disposed of No. 9 GW (0-2).The Black Eagles, though, are still finding their way with a lineup of two freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and one senior.That showed up again Tuesday when SC took control in the opening half, leading 38-16 at the break, then was outscored 22-18 in the second half."The little things almost caught up with us again,'' said SC coach Gary Greene. "We're looking at quarter by quarter and the first half we looked pretty good."The [last] quarter and a half we just didn't play well at all. A lot of young players out there for us, but there's no excuse for that. You can't take a quarter off in this conference. I'm not happy the way we won it. We didn't close it. We didn't finish things off.''Greene knows what it will take for the Black Eagles to reach the state tournament again. Greene, who took last year off, guided SC to four straight state tournament berths from 2009-12, including a pair of runner-up finishes. "You go talk to the kids and every one of them will say they played hard, but they sure didn't play smart for 16 minutes,'' said the SC coach. "If we take the [first] 16 minutes and build on it we might be half decent."Our guards shot better and we played some pretty good defense. We got extra possessions because of the turnovers we created. As young as we are we made mistakes in the first half, but it's stuff you have to accept. I don't have to accept the third and fourth quarters. We've got a lot of work to do.''Greene said SC has the type of players that will learn as they go."We've got kids that want to come in and work hard every day and get better,'' he said.The Black Eagles' Dunham knocked down all five of her 3-point attempts and added five rebounds and three assists. SC finished 7 of 12 on long-range shots, but just 38.5 percent (20 of 52) overall.
SC sophomore post player Taliah Cashwell contributed nine points and senior guard Lina Villanueva turned in eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. SC freshman Briana Moore totaled nine points and freshman Shy-Anne Dunham had six points and three steals.SC found its shooting touch from the outset, getting a pair of 3s from Aaliyah Dunham and one from Villanueva in the first four minutes of the opening quarter to build a 12-2 advantage. GW cut its deficit to seven points (16-9) by the end of the first period on five straight points - junior shooting guard Maria Romeo's 3 and junior point guard Alanna Mobayed's layup.
The Black Eagles sank three straight 3s (two from Aaliyah Dunham and one by Cashwell) to bust the game open with a 36-14 edge with 2:50 to go before halftime. SC held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.Romeo finished with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting for the Patriots while Mobayed added 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and eight steals. GW 6-foot-3 freshman Shionna Banks contributed six points, eight boards and four blocks."From what I had seen and watched I didn't feel like [SC] had great outside shooters,'' said GW coach Jamie LaMaster. "I thought they were great athletes and could do a lot of things on the court so the philosophy was squeeze early and make them shoot."Unfortunately they started hitting and I had to go to a more of a man-type look where it's hard for me to match player for player.''GW is still without senior post Kelli Jo Harrison, a Class AAA third-team all-state selection after last season who injured her knee this past summer. Harrison will know by the end of the month if her return is imminent."It's been a long time since I've been in this situation at GW,'' said LaMaster, who led the Patriots to two straight Class AAA state tournament semifinals appearances prior to last season. "I thought we were a little farther ahead than what we are.''
"When I look out there and we can't pass and catch a basketball I've got a problem. Some of these kids are in their first starts. When they come in they have to do the fundamental, basic things.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at or 304-348-4811.   
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