Girls basketball: Watson scores 29 points as Hurricane defeats South Charleston
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.
Besides scoring 29 points, Watson finished with eight rebounds, four steals, and two blocked shots.
"Abby's got all the tools," Lowe said. "And she's a tremendous leader."
She began playing basketball in the third grade but had already started to play soccer a couple of years earlier. She was also a key member of the Redskins' fifth-ranked soccer squad this fall.
She throws the shot and discus for the track team and broke the school record in the discus last spring.
"My favorite is basketball," Watson said. "I just feel at home when I play basketball."
She knew going up against the Black Eagles' defense would be tough.
"They are all very quick," Watson said. "So I had to adapt to that and pick up my game."
South Charleston continued to challenge right up until the last second when a last 3-point attempt to tie the game was just off the mark at the final buzzer.
The Black Eagles hit 44 percent from beyond the arc with a 7-of-16 effort.
Allaya Webb paced South Charleston with 15 points and Taneisha Sturdavent pulled down 15 rebounds for Hurricane.
Scott 54, Wayne 25 - Ali Whitman had 13 points as the Skyhawks (4-1) rolled to a home win over the Pioneers (1-5) in a meeting between Cardinal Conference members.
Tasha Maynard had 13 points for Wayne.
Scott will host Westside at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Madison Civic Center in a rematch of the Class AA state championship game last March.