CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Take back a little of the high school basketball blanket, West Virginia, and thank South Charleston while you're at it.
The Class AAA No. 7 Black Eagles (8-1) handed Knott County Central (Ky.) a 75-71 loss in the penultimate game of Saturday's Hatfield-McCoy Shootout at the Williamson Field House in Mingo County.
The event paired West Virginia teams against schools from the Bluegrass State, although Hurricane topped Class A No. 2 Greater Beckley Christian in the showcase as well. Overall, West Virginia teams won just two of the six head-to-head matchups against their neighbors from the far side of the Tug Fork River.
South Charleston's win, though, was an eye-opener. Knott County Central entered the one-day shootout with a 13-3 record and ranked 12th in Kentucky by MaxPreps.com. The Patriots finished last season 30-6 and reached the quarterfinals of the Kentucky's all-class state tournament.
Knott is led by 6-foot-2 junior guard Camron Justice, who has already committed to play at Tennessee. Justice had a game-high 38 points in the loss. South Charleston sophomore guard Brandon Knapper had 22 to lead the Black Eagles.
The Eagles' path to victory brought to mind coach Vic Herbert's assessment of his team earlier last week as a well-rounded group still in development.
"We'll occasionally have a guy get 25 or 30 (points) but it'll be seldom, because you know my philosophy: we share the ball," Herbert said.
Junior forward A.D. Cunningham had 19 points for South Charleston in the win and senior center Anthony Billings continued his emergence as one of the premier post players in the area with 16 points and nine rebounds.
South Charleston went 4-0 last week, answering its first loss of the season - a one-point, overtime setback at No. 3 Capital - with convincing wins over Riverside, Ripley and Parkersburg before visiting Williamson on Saturday. Herbert said the team might actually be a little ahead of schedule in terms of its development.
"This team is going to be a work in progress," he said. "I thought we'd have a loss before we played Capital, and I think we're going to have two or three (losses) early because of the experience factor."