South Charleston point guard Brandon Knapper drives hard for a fast-break basket over Brooke's Russell Schwertfeger.
South Charleston saved its opening-day jitters for the second game.Still, it worked out all right for the Black Eagles Friday night as they cashed in a 71-58 victory against Brooke to cap the first day of the 15th Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hoops Classic at the Civic Center.Brandon Knapper tallied 12 of his 20 points in the second half for SC (2-0), which trailed by nine points early and led by just two at halftime."The way we played tonight was how I expected us to play our first game,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert, who was battling a 102-degree temperature.
"But we saved it for our second game for some reason. [Maybe] because this team doesn't have any experience back except A.D. [Cunningham] and a little bit from Brandon. Playing with a bunch of inexperienced guys makes it tough.''Two new additions to the Black Eagles roster, seniors Anthony Billings and Jordan Lewis, certainly made their presence felt, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively. Neither was academically eligible to play last season.Six different players scored in the third quarter as SC extended its lead to 14, then bumped it to a maximum of 16 to start the final period. The 6-foot-5 Billings, who hasn't played since his freshman year, had six points in the third quarter. His size and boardwork especially vexed the Bruins.It certainly was different from the outset, when Russ Schwertfeger knocked down three 3-pointers to put the Bruins up 9-0. It looked nothing like the Black Eagles' opener, an 88-49 romp over Princeton."That was pitiful,'' Herbert said of the opening quarter against Brooke (2-2). "That's why I called a quick timeout and jumped on them. I just don't think we were giving the effort. We just thought we'd walk out there and they'd see it says 'South Charleston' on our jerseys and just give in. Well, that's not how it works. I think our guys finally figured that out after three minutes and it's 11-2."I don't think our pressure was nearly as good as it was against Princeton. Sometimes you get that tempo and they really get hopping around in that press and guys are playing like their hair's on fire and we're moving real well. It just wasn't there tonight.''The Bruins were never closer than 10 points in the final quarter.Schwertfeger finished with 16 points for Brooke to match Thomas Cole for the team high. Nick DeStefano added 10 points.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org