Capital's Carrington Morris dribbles through a double-team effort by SC's Brandon Knapper (left) and Shawn Cunningham.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With 46 seconds left in regulation, Capital's Carrington Morris walked off the floor, thinking he had fouled out. Fortunately for the Cougars, he was mistaken.Morris scored five of his 23 points in overtime Thursday night, including a pair of clutch free throws with two seconds left, handing resilient Capital a 72-71 victory over South Charleston in a battle of unbeaten Class AAA state-ranked teams."It's always good to beat our rivals,'' Morris said. "It's always good to beat them in our house, too. We came in and knew what we had to do, and just did it.''Capital, ranked sixth in AAA, is off to its first 4-0 start since 2007-08, when it won its first eight games. But it certainly didn't come easily against the No. 3 Black Eagles (4-1).
The Cougars trailed by as many as 11 points late in the first half and were again down by seven with less than 21/2 minutes left in regulation."They stayed right with it, stayed right at it,'' said Capital coach Carl Clark. "They were aggressive and positive about what they were doing, and they never quit. That's what it takes. Several times when we got down, they could have folded but they never did.''Trailing 61-54 inside the 2:30 mark, Capital's Brad Grose knocked down a 3-pointer, and Jordan Kinney and Morris added goals to forge a tie at 61 with a minute remaining. A.D. Cunningham swished two free throws at the 46-second mark for SC, but Morris took a nice pass from Kinney for a deuce that ultimately sent the game into OT.
South Charleston then held a 69-65 lead when Brandon Knapper (23 points) swiped the ball and sank a layup with 1:08 to go in OT, but Morris hit a big 3 and Tyrell Davis scored on a driving shot with 32 seconds left as Capital shaved it back to 71-70.The Cougars had to foul and put Cunningham back at the line for the double bonus at the 16-second mark. He missed both and the Cougars had their chance.Twice during the frantic possession, with nearly everyone in the gym on their feet and screaming, Capital averted disaster. Silas Nazario made a tough catch on the baseline after a wicked pass from Morris nearly sailed out of bounds. Then SC's Anthony Billings got his hand on a pass lobbed to Morris in the middle of the defense, but the Cougars were able to corral the deflected ball and keep possession.
Morris pulled up for a jumper from inside the foul lane that rimmed out, but a foul was whistled, putting him at the line, where he coolly sank both tries for a one-point lead."Just score is all I wanted,'' Morris said. "No matter how we do it, just win. That's all I wanted to do.''All SC could manage after that was a running half-court heave from Kentre Grier that was off the mark at the final buzzer."I'm not going to complain,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert, "and I'm sure the fouls were even. But in that situation, when the game had been kind of rough - they'd been letting them play - then there was a touch foul, which was probably a foul. But it wasn't in the context with the way the game was being called. They were letting us play."I'm not going to make excuses. We didn't do what we needed to do at the end. We were up seven with 2:45 to go in the game. We want them to run clock and hold it and we took a couple of stupid shots. But I was expecting this - this in an experienced team. I thought we'd take a couple setbacks early; I thought it would happen before now.
"But I always said if we play hard, I'll take the blame for losses. We played hard, so it's my fault.''Cunningham added 17 points and nine rebounds for SC, and Billings had a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds).For Capital, which led 47-42 in rebounding and had five fewer turnovers than SC's 22, Kinney donated 17 points, Bryce Goldsmith 11 with seven rebounds and Davis 10 points. Grose grabbed 13 boards and Morris stole the ball nine times."Both teams were playing aggressive, man-to-man pressing defenses,'' Clark said. "Kids didn't handle that pressure as well as we would hope - both teams. We like to play teams like that. The more we can play teams that put pressure on you, as the season goes on, that should make you better.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.