CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Mountain State Athletic Conference Night of Champions is still almost three weeks away, but South Charleston boys basketball coach Vic Herbert knows who he wants to face should the Black Eagles reach the conference title game.
"I want Capital to win the East (Division)," Herbert said last week after Class AAA No. 5 SC (12-1) downed No. 2 Huntington (10-2) when sophomore Brandon Knapper drilled a 3pointer at the buzzer for a 61-58 win.
Herbert has good reason to want a second crack at Carrington Morris and the thirdranked Cougars (8-2) and it has little to do with the MSAC.
After calling Saturday's game against rival George Washington (10-3) a "must-win" contest - SC beat the Patriots 63-62 when Knapper scored 30 to go with A.D. Cunningham's 20 points and hit a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds to go to seal the win - Herbert explained why he wants to face the only team to hand SC a loss this season.
"I want us to get Capital in the MSACs so if we win, at least then it's one to one," Herbert said, referring to head-tohead match-ups that have a hand the determination of sectional tournament seeding.
South Charleston moved from Region 4 to Region 3 this year, and joins Capital, George Washington, Riverside and Ripley in Region 3, Section 1. Saturday's win over GW put SC solidly in second place among those schools for seeding purposes, which would give the Eagles at least one home game in what is potentially one of the most closely contested sections in the state regardless of class.
Capital beat George Washington 83-73 in a mutual season opener on Dec. 13, and faces the Cougars again Feb. 12 at Capital. Saturday's game against South Charleston was the only scheduled meeting of the regular season between the Patriots and Black Eagles.
"We don't want to be third in that," Herbert said, emphasizing the importance of facing GW last weekend.
Such a scenario would find SC visiting Capital or George Washington in its first postseason game. As records stand today, Ripley would visit Riverside for a play-in game, with the winner taking on Capital in the semifinals. GW would visit South Charleston.
The Black Eagles have reeled off eight consecutive wins since falling 72-71 in overtime at Capital on Jan. 9. Knapper has averaged 19 points per game through that stretch, with Cunningham scoring 15.1 per game.
While the win over GW did not affect the MSAC standings, the Black Eagles sit atop the league's West Division with a 3-0 record against division opponents.
Only games against teams in the same division count toward determining what teams play for the conference title on Feb. 22 at the South Charleston Community Center.