Boys basketball: No. 1 South Charleston wins 10th straight
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston entered against Winfield expecting its opposition's best effort, and the Generals delivered, though the Black Eagles proved their mettle again as Class AAA's No. 1 team Thursday.
Winfield traded blows with the South Charleston boys basketball squad, and forced the Black Eagles to play a slower than usual pace, yet the Black Eagles dodged any knock-out punches to prevail 56-45.
"We know (we're) everybody's biggest game," SC senior Rashaud Kincaid said. "We just try to go out and play every game like we're No. 8 or No. 7. It doesn't matter what rank we are. We don't worry about that. We just go out and try to play as hard as we can and get the job done."
Top-ranked South Charleston never trailed in the contest, though never quite created the separation to completely put the game on ice.
The Black Eagles (15-1) led by eight at 20-12 after the first quarter in what appeared to be a pace that favored the speedy squad.
The game slowed considerably for South Charleston from that point, however.
"I think Winfield did a good job of controlling the tempo, making us play a little bit of a style we're unfamiliar with, because we are an up-and-down (the floor) team," SC Coach Vic Herbert said.
Herbert said he was unhappy with his team's eight first-half turnovers, yet it was Winfield (10-8) that committed 24 turnovers for the contest, including 16 in the first half.
"A couple times in the first half there we had a guy wide open down the floor and we threw it over his head out of bounds," Generals Coach Pat McGinnis said. "We had some opportunities, we missed some easy chippies in there. With a good team like that, you can't make those kind of mistakes.
"Our kids, the effort was there, we just did not execute some things that we need to do."
While Winfield did not help itself with some poor passes, SC created many of the turnovers on its own merit. The Black Eagles finished with 20 steals.
"We felt like that because of our style and our advantage maybe quickness wise that if we got up in them really hard, that we would have a chance to turn them over," Herbert said.
The turnovers provided SC with much-needed scoring opportunities as the Black Eagles used the extra chances to overcome poor shooting. SC finished 23-of-60 from the field.
"Shots didn't fall like we wanted them to and we kind of got a little lackadaisical there," senior Devyn Harris said, "but we were able to lock down a little bit on defense and be fortunate to get a win."
Defense spurred the SC offense, but also stifled Winfield's scoring chances, particularly those of Generals leading scorer Zach Fisher, who finished with just five points.
Still, Winfield found ways to produce points. Taylor Hearn and John Bellomy combined for 22 points and threatened consistently from 3-point range, as forward Chris Turner worked the interior for 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Winfield chipped at the lead throughout, but each time South Charleston answered. The Black Eagles led by as many as 15 in the second half, but the Generals closed the game to seven points with 49 seconds remaining.
Through it all, South Charleston stayed the course and never allowed Winfield any closer.
"Coach told us to just play good defense and everything would fall into place," Kincaid said.
"It's a game of runs. They made their run, we made our runs, and they made that run at the end. Coach just told us to settle down, play smart and we got the defense. The defense helped us out at the end."
Kincaid finished with a game-high 15 points as eight different Black Eagles players tallied a field goal. In addition to the starting five, seniors Trevond Reese and Kevin Williams both entered from the bench to make large contributions.
Reese finished with eight points, a team-high five steals and three rebounds, while Williams posted a team-high six rebounds and four points.
More than stats, though, Williams said the team understands the right mindset will carry the Black Eagles to victory as teams rise to challenge SC.
"We do get everyone's best shot," he said, "but we just have to stay focused and come out and play our hardest, and that's what we've done so far, and that's what we're going to continue to do."
South Charleston next plays at Capital 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, while Winfield returns to play host to St. Albans 7:30 p.m. Monday.