CHARLESTON, W.Va. – No. 3 South Charleston overcame a history of quarterfinal disappointments by surviving its Class AAA clash against sixth-seeded Morgantown 48-39 on Thursday night.
“We have been waiting for this game all year,” South Charleston guard Rashaud Kincaid said. “We didn’t want this to be our last game as seniors, knowing that we would have lost every year in the first round up here.”
South Charleston (24-2) was clinging to a 42-39 lead with 1:35 left when Kincaid drove to the basket and missed a layup. He grabbed his own rebound but missed another shot before teammate A.D. Cunningham stuck in the putback to stretch the lead to five points.
“I’m proud of my teammates, (especially the big guys),” Kincaid said. “They’ve worked hard and been difference makers all year. When A.D. made that shot, that was like the difference in the game right there.”
Cunningham’s bucket sparked a 6-0 run to end the game as Morgantown (19-7) could not get anything to fall after that.
“We still had shots at the end there,” Morgantown coach Tom Yester said. “We had a 3 go in-and-out, and a play down low that we didn’t convert. We gave ourselves a shot by holding that team to 48, just didn’t make enough shots down the stretch.”
South Charleston was led by Brandon Napper’s 16 points. Kincaid, who also beat the third-quarter buzzer to give the Black Eagles the lead for good, had 15 points. Cunningham posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Morgantown jumped out early to a 26-19 halftime lead.
“I thought we did a good job of getting off to a good start in the first half,” Yester said. “It was big that we had control of the boards as well.”
The Black Eagles defense came out with a purpose in the second half, holding the Mohigans to 20 percent shooting, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range. They also held a 24-12 rebounding edge in the second half.
“I thought we played good defense in the first half,” South Charleston coach Vic Herbert said. “But in the second half we played really, really good defense and did a great job of limiting them to one shot per possession.”
Morgantown was led by West Virginia signee Nathan Adrian, who had a game-high 17 points and 17 rebounds, though he was just 6-of-20 shooting.
“I can’t go 6-of-20 out there and expect us to win.” Adrian said.
South Charleston sets up a semifinal rubber match against Woodrow Wilson after the teams split games during the year.
“It’s like looking at us when you look at them (Woodrow Wilson),” Herbert said. “Their defense is like ours and looking at their games, they don’t have many breakdowns at all overall.”
— CJ Ricker