South Charleston - led by a career-high 40 points from guard Brandon Knapper - delivered in a fast-paced, intensity-filled tilt between two of Class AAA's top-five boys basketball teams to earn a signature 74-53 win against visiting Woodrow Wilson on Tuesday night.
The teams traded the lead throughout the first half, but the Black Eagles manufactured a deciding 19-3 run in the third quarter that lifted second-ranked SC to a victory over No. 4 Woodrow at the South Charleston Community Center. With a win tonight versus Nitro, the Black Eagles would advance to the Mountain State Athletic Conference's Night of Champions.
SC trailed 32-31 at halftime in a frenetically paced game, but showed its mettle in the second half to move past Woodrow.
"After we got to that point, I think the atmosphere and the intensity through the first half, we finally calmed down and played our game," Black Eagles coach Vic Herbert said. "We got good shots offensively, played offensively below the foul line, which we had talked about instead of letting them push us all the way out to half-court, so it was a good exhibition offensively in the second half."
Trailing at halftime, SC started the second half strong with a 7-0 run that eventually ballooned to a 14-point advantage. Knapper said the team surged ahead with a better defensive effort.
"The first half, we were getting out-rebounded offensively, and they were just getting put-backs," Knapper said. "The second half, we just came out and boxed out, and they didn't get any second chances. We just ran the floor."
As SC led 44-37 in the third quarter, Woodrow standout Donte Nabors was charged a technical and personal foul on the same play. Knapper and teammate AD Cunningham converted all four free-throw attempts to increase the Black Eagle lead to 11. Per Flying Eagles team rules, Nabors sat the remaining 3:30 of the quarter, as the Woodrow woes continued.
"They took us out of what we wanted to do," Flying Eagles coach Ron Kidd said. "I give them credit. They were the better team tonight. I give them all the credit in the world."
Once SC increased the lead to double digits, Woodrow never recovered as the Black Eagles continued to ride behind their defensive domination.