A good portion of the crowd at Capital High School Tuesday evening probably came to get a glimpse of Logan sophomore David Early, and he certainly didn’t disappoint with 25 points and six rebounds.
But most people likely left talking about Capital’s Kerry Martin, who for a second straight game broke out a career-best scoring effort.
Martin poured in 32 points and dished out five assists as the Cougars sprinted to an 82-68 victory in their next-to-last regular season game. Martin bettered the 28 points he racked up in Saturday’s Mountain State Athletic Conference title game win against Huntington.
“I think he’s getting in a lot more shots in practice, and after practice,’’ said Capital assistant coach Kalan Smith, “and he’s just become more comfortable as the year progresses. When other people start knocking down shots, too, that makes him a little more comfortable, and he’s able to distribute the ball and make his game a little more well-rounded.’’
The Cougars (12-7) also drained 11 3-point field goals on a night when they played without their head coach, Matt Greene, who has been suspended for two games by the SSAC for playing what it called an unsanctioned game on Feb. 14 against Huntington Prep Blue. In addition, Capital had to forfeit that game, which it won 75-59.
Greene will sit out Wednesday’s Senior Night game against Spring Valley and returns for the sectionals, where his team was awarded the No. 1 seed in Class AAA Region 3 Section 1, relegating George Washington to the No. 2 seed.
Logan (14-8), unranked in Class AA, made the game quite interesting much of the way, and trailed just 40-34 at halftime behind Early, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard who has already received scholarship offers from West Virginia and Marshall.
Capital’s depth and suffocating pressure defense, however, took their toll on the Wildcats, who committed seven of their 18 turnovers in the third quarter as they fell behind by as many as 17 points.
“We talked before the game,’’ said Logan coach Zach Green, “that if we could match them on the boards and take care of the ball, we’d have a good chance of walking out of here with a win. But their pressure is good and they’ve got a ton of guys that they can just throw at you and really pressure you. We haven’t seen that kind of pressure all year and it made it tough on our guys, but give credit to [Capital’s] coaching staff.’’
Anthony Pittman finished with 23 points for Capital even though he went scoreless for the first 1 1/2 quarters, finally throwing down a dunk off an alley-oop feed midway into the second quarter. Pittman scored nine of his points in the decisive third quarter and Jabbar Thompson scored all 11 of his points in that same period for the Cougars. Jay Fannin grabbed eight rebounds, but the Cougars trailed 35-33 off the boards.
Capital made its job easier by going 11 of 21 from 3-point range, with six different players donating treys. Martin was 4 of 5 from behind the arc.
“We tried to attack from inside out,’’ Smith said, “but it didn’t exactly work. We were lucky enough to hit some 3s, which allowed us to be able to gap the team and not allow them to come back.’’
Logan, which had won seven of its last nine coming into Tuesday’s game, fell behind by as many as 21 points in the final quarter, but shaved it back to 12 in the last minute. Terrance Chapman, who’s come alive in recent weeks, added 14 points and Peter Noe 11 off the bench.
“We’ve been playing really well over the past month,’’ Green said, “but we’re not getting a whole lot of respect out of the state. There’s kind of been a lot of bulletin-board material. But we’re playing really, really confident right now. David and Terrance and some other guys are playing really confident right now, and we’re looking forward to our [sectional].’’
Capital’s Martin is also looking down the road, but it’s more toward another chance at a state title. The junior two-sport star has been part of Capital football and basketball teams to lose in the state finals the two previous school years.
“I just want to be ready,’’ Martin said. “Me and my coach, Coach Greene, we had a sit-down and talked. I told him every time I’ve been in a state championship, I’ve lost, and every year I’ve been in high school, I’ve made it to a state championship. So I want to make this time now that’s in my hands to get one with the team. Make sure everybody is straight, on the same page, and let’s just get the championship.’’