ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- South Charleston was just glad to be on the basketball court and it didn't even matter that it wasn't in the Black Eagles' gym.Rhea Smith scored 16 points to lead three players in double figures as SC came out on fire in the opening quarter and buried Capital 66-50 Monday afternoon. A crowd of about 300 attended the Mountain State Athletic Conference Class AAA matchup at St. Albans High School, which was the only gym in the Kanawha Valley that had potable water after last week's chemical leak.The Black Eagles, who were just three votes shy of cracking Monday's Associated Press poll, outscored Capital 18-5 in the first quarter and never looked back. SC went up by 17 points at halftime (36-19) then outpointed the Cougars 23-13 in the third period for an exclamation point."It felt good,'' said SC freshman guard Aaliyah Dunham, who turned in 12 points. "I haven't been on the court for a little bit.
"It's been awhile. It's been hard. We haven't been able to practice. We were unorganized today. We need practice because sometimes we're not focused.''Taliah Cashwell chipped in 15 points for the Black Eagles (6-2), who last played a game Wednesday.Teams around the state have missed games and practices because of the season's first snowfall and hazardous travel conditions then sub-freezing temperatures from a polar vortex and now the water emergency that has kept nine counties, including Kanawha and Putnam, closed for school since Friday.
"Everybody's in the same boat,'' said SC coach Gary Greene. "We've been in the gym four times since New Year's. It's a tough time for kids being able to get any kind of flow of things."I was proud of the kids. They came out and at least tried to play hard. We looked more like a soccer team than basketball. The timing is just off for everybody. They're coachable and they're listening.''Alex Gray netted a game-high 20 points for Capital (3-6), which last played Jan. 4. India Hairston pitched in 16 points for the Cougars, who have lost three in a row."You can talk to them and stress the fundamentals and spacing, but we go through spells in every single game where we'll play well for a period of time,'' said Capital coach B.J. Calabrese, who lost seven of his top nine players to graduation."Suddenly you go from a seven-point game to down 14 or 15 [points]. When you're starting young kids they just don't understand you can't have those lapses.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.