HURRICANE, W.Va. -- First-year coaches Austin Lowe and John Testa each pulled a lot of the right strings Monday night when Testa's 10th-ranked South Charleston squad faced off against Lowe's host Hurricane team.
In the end, Lowe's Redskins had a weapon the Black Eagles (4-2) simply could not counter.
Sophomore Abby Watson hit her final eight shots - a 2-pointer, a 3-pointer, and six free throws - in the closing minutes to give her 29 points as Hurricane improved to 2-2 with a 51-48 win.
"She is our go-to girl," Lowe said. "She's best under pressure."
The Black Eagles lost all five starters and former Coach Gary Greene after last season's squad made a third straight State Tournament appearance.
Lacking size and experience the Black Eagles used their quickness to apply full court pressure throughout the contest. Testa kept a continuous rotation of eight to nine players taking short breaks to keep them fresh.
After Hurricane took a 22-18 lead into halftime it looked like that constant pressure had finally worn down the Redskins. South Charleston forced nine turnovers and took off on a 14-2 run to take a 35-28 lead.
A 3-pointer by Laci Jarrell at the third-quarter buzzer left the score 38-33. After that, Watson took over.
The 5-foot-9 guard scored 14 points in the final quarter.
When the Black Eagles were forced to foul down the stretch Watson had the ball in her hands.
"It's a lot of pressure but it felt good," she said.
Especially since she had struggled from the line in Hurricane's first three games.
"This season I've had a very bad free throw percentage," Watson said. "I worked all weekend on free throws."
She was last season's Daily Mail Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year.