CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The ever-dissolving notion that the way to beat the South Charleston boys basketball team is to stop sophomore Brandon Knapper was reassured, at least momentarily, by what coach Vic Herbert called an "ugly" victory over Point Pleasant (12-8) in the Little General Stores Shootout at the Big House on Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Herbert's description was apt because the Black Eagles (18-1) shot a 19-of-64 (.297) from the floor, 7-of-21 (.333) from the foul line and 3-of-17 (.176) from 3-point range to score 26.3 points fewer than their season average (74.4).
"Not very nice to watch," Herbert said. "Offensively, that was as bad as our offense has played all year."
What was important to Herbert and the Black Eagles in their 14th consecutive victory is that it came when Knapper - South Charleston's best player and best shooter - was 4-of-19 from the floor and scored nine points.
For those counting, that's 12.9 points fewer than his average (20.9).
The point guard that makes South Charleston go didn't exactly go on this day, thanks, in part to Knapper being Point's defensive focus.
"We committed to the zone and game-planned pretty good, but we didn't execute it very well," said Point Pleasant coach Josh Williams, whose Big Blacks dropped a 77-46 loss at home to South Charleston on Dec. 27. "We took it for granted that he's about their only shooter, and he's not. We really wanted to make sure he didn't beat us."
This time it was junior forward A.D. Cunningham who had 24 points and nine rebounds, and the post presence of reserve Tre Clark with 10 rebounds.
They overcame a strong-willed Point Pleasant team that lost by only one point to George Washington on Valentine's Day.
Surprisingly, very little help came from Knapper in the way of scoring -- he even missed two fourth-quarter free throws that would've made the game less interesting for SC -- and the 10th-grader finished with just three rebounds and two assists.
That certainly hasn't been the case most of the season for the high-flying Black Eagles, who haven't lost since a one-point road decision to Capital on Jan. 9 -- the night a water emergency was declared for nine West Virginia counties.
Since 2004 when Knapper moved to South Charleston from Ontario, Calif., - about 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles - when he was six years old, he was eager for the chance to play varsity high school basketball.
As a freshman last season, the opportunities were few and far between playing behind starting point guard Ra'Shaud Kincaid and Devon Harris.