CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kevin Williams' high school basketball career took off with a steep arc in the 2010-11 season, after which he was named the Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year by the Charleston Daily Mail.
Williams' career trajectory veered off its expected course early, however, and by the end of his junior year he seemed destined for the "Where are they now" bin of prep sports history.
For anyone who had forgotten the promise Williams possessed while a freshman at St. Albans High School and then in his first year at South Charleston as a sophomore in 2012, a reminder was served in rather grand fashion Saturday night in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game at the South Charleston Community Center.
There, coming off the bench, the 6-foot-5 forward had a season-high 17 points and seven rebounds to help lift the Class AAA No. 2 Black Eagles (19-1) to a 92-86 overtime win over fourth-ranked Woodrow Wilson (15-4).
Settling in to a largely vacant South Charleston locker room following postgame festivities, South Charleston coach Vic Herbert spoke about Williams' journey and its high point to date.
"Kevin Williams played his heart out. There was no player on that floor I was more proud of than Kevin Williams," Herbert said.
"We could not even have come close to winning this game without Kevin.
"There was times he was so gassed that I took him out because he needed a blow," Herbert said. "The only times I took him out where we when he said he needed a breather. That's how hard he went tonight."
SC withstood a 20-2 run by the Flying Eagles that extended from the second quarter into the third, and overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to retake the lead before Woodrow's Donte Nabors hit a late 3-pointer to force overtime. Once in the extra session South Charleston began with a five-point possession and never trailed, holding Woodrow at arm's length until the final buzzer.
But there is more to Williams' story than the nuts and bolts of points and rebounds, a final score and a trophy. There's much more, in fact.
"I can't really sugar-coat it. I've been playing bad all year and I thought tonight for the MSAC championship I had to pull it out for my team," Williams said. "We pulled together and had a good win."