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Boys basketball: South Charleston, Beckley head into matchup on a roll

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston has won 40 consecutive Mountain State Athletic Conference games, and hasn't won a game by fewer than 11 points since Jan. 18.

The only Class AAA team outside of the Eastern Panhandle that is playing as well as - and arguably better than - the second-ranked Black Eagles (18-1) is No. 3 Beckley. The Flying Eagles (16-4) haven't lost since Jan. 10, winning 12 straight games in the process by an average of 27.3 points per win.

Fittingly, the teams meet for the second time this season at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Mountain State Athletic Conference Night of Champions at the South Charleston Community Center.

SC Coach Vic Herbert said he doesn't see the aforementioned argument.

"I think they're playing better right now than maybe anybody in the state," Herbert said. "I mean, we've both got athletes, but they've got athletes that are three or four inches taller than our guys, and that's going to make it a real challenge."

George Washington (15-4) takes on Hurricane (15-4) in the consolation game, scheduled for 4 p.m. It will be the Redskins' first appearance in the MSAC Night of Champions.

SC and Beckley teams met at the Raleigh County Convention Center on Jan. 8. That night, South Charleston handed Coach Ron Kidd's team a 51-44 loss.

"They're a lot better now," Herbert said.

SC's early season win over Beckley was prior to the emergence of Flying Eagles junior Donte Nabors. The 5-foot-10 shooting guard and son of former LSU and Robert Morris standout Gene Nabors - a 1995 Beckley graduate who starred for Coach Dave Barksdale's team that fell 99-96 to Wheeling Park in a classic Class AAA state title game as a senior - has been on a scoring tear during the Flying Eagles' win streak. Nabors leads the team in scoring at 21 points per game.

"He shoots it well. He can hit pull-ups well, he can drive to the bucket well, he can pass well," Herbert said. "Him and Andrew Johnson give them a backcourt that is going to be tough to stop."

South Charleston sophomore guard/forward A.D. Cunningham leads the Black Eagles in scoring, at 13.8 points per game.

Herbert said that while his team has been playing better offensively, he is concerned that its defense might be slacking as a result.

"We gave up 51 points to Capital the other night, which is fine but it was six points more than we'd been giving up, on average," he said. "Then we gave up 61 points to Spring Valley Wednesday night.

"That's a concern, because we can't give up 60 to Beckley. They're just too tough to score on."

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FROM THE "wins are wins" file: much has been made of George Washington's lack of depth in 2012-13, but the team has a winning percentage of .789.

A year ago, when the Patriots fell to Hedgesville in the Class AAA state championship game, they finished 21-7 (.750). The 2010-11 GW team that won its first state championship since 1971 finished 24-4 (.857).

Since the 2002-03 season, only four times has George Washington finished the season with a better winning percentage than the one owned by its current team, led by senior guard Luke Eddy.

Like South Charleston, the Patriots have just one player - Eddy - who averages more than 10 points per game. Unlike SC, which has been led in single-game scoring by six different players this season, Eddy has shouldered the load in every GW outing.

Eddy's 16 points in an overtime win against Class AAA No. 5 Parkersburg South on Wednesday put him over 500 points for the season, but dropped his scoring average to 27.1 points per game.

Eddy is on track to finish with the highest scoring average of any Kanawha Valley player in a season since Noah Cottrill averaged 30.9 in 23 games as a sophomore at Poca in the 2007-08 season.

*  *  *

HOW MUCH is Bill McClanahan worth to Class A No. 2 Charleston Catholic?

The Irish have played four top 10 teams in the last 10 days, going 2-2 with convincing wins against No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic and No. 7 Buffalo. Catholic lost at No. 3 Tucker County last Friday, and were run out of the Charleston Civic Center by top-ranked Tug Valley on Wednesday night.

McClanahan was on the bench for both wins. He missed both losses. Not a teacher or otherwise an employee of Charleston Catholic High School, McClanahan has been out of town for business trips since the Irish beat Parkersburg Catholic. He was in Richmond, Va., Wednesday night.

He will be with the team tonight when it faces St. Albans, but then will miss Catholic's trip to Braxton County next Thursday. He expects to be back the next night, when the Irish (16-3) wrap up their regular season against Poca at home.

Fred McPherson, McClanahan's top assistant who has served as coach in McClanhan's absence, is 4-3 all-time in that position.

*  *  *

CAPITAL'S LOSS on Tuesday at home against South Charleston dropped the Cougars to 7-14 and gave the school more losses in a single season than in any year since 2003. That year, which was 2005 Evans Award winner Josh "Cookie" Miller's sophomore season, the team finished 8-16.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.

 


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