CHARLESTON, W.Va. - There is a reason so many fight for the last word in an argument. It usually tips the scales one way or the other.
Andrew Johnson's 3-pointer sparked a Beckley rally that came too late for South Charleston to answer Friday night, and the second-seeded Flying Eagles (23-4) advanced to the Class AAA championship game of the state tournament with a 64-57 win over the No. 3 seed Black Eagles (24-3).
Johnson tied the game at 50-50 with a shot from the top of the key. But after a Beckley timeout with the game knotted at 52-52 with 3:13 left, Beckley freshman center Nequan Carrington followed a pair of Chase Hancock free throws with consecutive layups that put his team ahead 58-52 with 2:02 remaining.
Though Hunter Moles and Ra'Shaud Kincaid kept SC within four points, they could get coach Vic Herbert's team no closer than 58-56 with 1:32 left.
Beckley led by three with 40 seconds left, but a South Charleston turnover on an inbounds pass allowed Dejuan Fortune to salt away the win at the line.
The run capped a game full of them. The lead changed hands eight separate times, and the score was tied on five occasions as the teams that had split a regular-season set of meetings by each winning on the road slugged it out for 32 minutes. South Charleston led much of the way, but never could pull away. The Black Eagles' largest lead was six points, with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
Carrington led all scorers with 16 points, and Beckley had four players score in double figures. Johnson and Donte Nabors had 14 points and shared the team lead with eight rebounds. Fortune added 10 pints in just 17 minutes.
Johnson led all players with nine assists.
For South Charleston, senior guard Devyn Harris had a team-high 16 points, while Moles had 15. Senior Trevond Reese had another strong game in the paint, and finished with 10 points and give rebounds. Harris led the team with six boards.
Beckley will take on No. 1 seed Martinsburg for the state title at 7:15 p.m. Saturday.