CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's a good thing for Capital that Jordan Kinney had his career-best game Thursday evening, because the Cougars needed every last ounce they could squeeze out of him.Kinney, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, erupted for 32 points and seven steals, including a pair of clutch free throws with 10 seconds left, allowing state-ranked host Capital to escape with a 63-60 victory over upset-minded Riverside.After Kinney's foul shots, Riverside (4-3) had one last chance to send the game into overtime, calling a timeout at halfcourt with 6.6 seconds left. The Warriors tried to drop the ball inside the foul lane and kick it back out to senior guard Tyus Wood for a 3-pointer, but Capital's Tyrell Davis read the play and swiped the ball, the final of 20 steals for the Class AAA No. 3 Cougars (6-1).Kinney hit 12 of 22 shots, including 2 of 3 from distance, and had 20 points in the first half alone as Capital played some stretches without leading scorer Carrington Morris because of foul problems."He's our best player,'' Kinney said of Morris, "so teams are going to key on him. So we've just got to step up, and tonight was my night. I just had to step up and take the role.''Riverside certainly made things tough on the Cougars despite turning the ball over 27 times. The Warriors shot better than 50 percent and knocked down 6 of 10 from 3-point range, allowing them to remain in the game after trailing by as many as 12 points late in the first half.When Wood (26 points) drained a 3 from the left corner with 1:31 remaining in the game, Riverside took a 60-59 lead. The shot was set up when the Warriors' Josh Carpenter blocked a Davis shot to initiate a fast break.Capital regained the lead when Morris sank a scooping layup at the 43-second mark. Following a Riverside timeout, Kinney stole a pass and was fouled, bumping the Cougars' lead to 63-60 with 10 seconds to go on a pair of free throws.
Davis then sealed the deal with his eighth steal of the game and time ran out.There were six lead changes in the second half and Riverside, which trailed 39-30 at halftime, actually held a 50-44 lead late in the third quarter. Capital made only 3 of 19 shots in that period, aiding the Warriors' 20-5 run.It was a far cry from Riverside's last game, a 66-44 home blowout loss to Hurricane."I don't want to jump the gun too early,'' said Warriors first-year coach Ryan Carter, "but I think we might have turned a leaf in our program tonight, the way we played the second half."It's tough because you see the kids crying, and I love it because that shows me how much they care. When the kids are crying, I understand they want it just as much as the coaching staff.''
Tamar Lawson added 11 points and eight rebounds for Riverside, which matched Capital off the boards at 37-all. Quan Brock had nine points and seven rebounds and Carpenter eight points and nine boards.Capital coach Carl Clark said he was concerned even when his team held leads as large as 35-23 in the second quarter.
"We got a lead,'' Clark said, "but we got a lead by just being in our own gym and making some shots, but we weren't playing well. We were raggedy the whole night, and it showed that we were lacking continuity by not being able to practice.''Kanawha County teams aren't permitted to practice when classes are called off, and students have attended school just three days so far this month.Morris tallied 13 points for Capital, about nine below his average, and Bryce Goldsmith had eight boards and a team-high seven rebounds.Kinney scored 16 of the Cougars' 21 first-quarter points, many on floaters in the lane. He's boosted his scoring average from 5.7 points after three games to 13.1."We've been on him to take the ball to the basket,'' Clark said, "and he's finally been doing it the last three, four games.''Clark said his team's changing defenses also helped salvage the day.
"Every time we changed,'' he said, "I think we were able to get something from the defensive change, but it wasn't anything that was lasting. The last thing we said going into our matchups with our guards was, 'Put pressure on the ball.' I think that helped us. We just didn't execute the things we needed to execute to get away from those guys. They've got a lot of athletes that can run and jump and shoot, and that kept them in the ballgame.''Carter said he doesn't believe in moral victories, but realizes his team took a step in the right direction."Coming into the game, I knew that we could play them,'' Carter said. "For the most part, we played well tonight. We have a lot of room to improve, but I can finally say I'm proud of the way our kids played tonight.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.