ONA — It’s tough enough for Cabell Midland opponents having to defend All-State-caliber players like guard Chandler Schmidt and forward K.K Siebert. Then you throw someone like Palmer Riggio into the mix.
Riggio, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, knocked down four 3-pointers and scored a career-best 19 points Wednesday night, sparking unbeaten Midland to a 60-51 home victory over short-handed South Charleston.
The Knights (9-0), who came into the game ranked No. 2 in the Class AAA state poll, had quite the battle on their hands through three quarters, with five lead changes and six ties in that time. But both Riggio and Siebert chipped in eight points in the fourth quarter as Midland opened the final period on a 20-7 run.
Riggio, who was scoreless until three minutes remained in the first half, tallied 11 of his team’s 13 points between the second and third quarters, then added another pair of 3s in the final period.
“I think that’s what’s making this year special,’’ said Midland coach J.J. Martin. “We’re only playing like six guys, but all six of those guys can all score. Palmer can shoot and get to the rim a little bit. It’s one of the things that makes us hard to guard.’’
Schmidt, who jumped out the gate with five quick points as Midland led 8-0, finished with 15. Siebert and Dominic Schmidt, Chandler’s freshman brother, each scored 12. Seibert finished with a double-double, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds.
“They caused some matchup problems with Siebert,’’ said Josh Daniel, the first-year coach of No. 8 South Charleston (6-4). “I thought he was dominant on both the offensive and defensive glass. I thought he was the difference tonight. I feel like he got every 50-50 ball on every offensive rebound.’’
The Black Eagles played their second game without second-leading scorer Harold Pannell, who is serving a school suspension. That left much of the offense in the hands of senior guard Quay Sutton, who poured in 30 points, including five 3-pointers. He took 26 of his team’s 49 shots.
A Sutton fadeaway shot brought SC within 46-45 with 41/2 minutes left in the game, but in the blink of an eye, it was 54-45 in favor of Midland as Siebert took a nice pass from Dominic Schmidt for a layup and followed a missed shot by Chandler Schmidt for another goal to start the burst.
“It seemed like they were keying on K.K.,’’ Martin said. “Every time we threw it to him, they kind of doubled. He was having a rough night for a while and Palmer picked him up. That’s what what we tell our guys: ‘It’s not how many points you score, but if we get the collective win.’ We know we have five, six guys every night who can give you double figures, and I think that’s what’s making us good.’’
Dominic Schmidt picked up seven rebounds for Midland. Each team had 30 rebounds and a dozen turnovers.
For the Black Eagles, D.J. Johnson scored all nine of his points in the first half and Shaq Brown had eight rebounds. SC got a pair of buzzer-beating baskets, with Sutton’s steal and layup ahead of the buzzer in the second quarter and reserve Xavier Bausley following in his own missed shot to close out the third period, giving the Eagles a 41-40 edge.
“We let them go on a big run to start the game and to start the second half,’’ Daniel said. “We could never get over that hump to get the lead. We were always trying to play from behind and keep our heads above water. But it was the No. 2 team in the state, and we were right there. It was a one, two-point game with three minutes to go.’’