SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Defense has been the calling card for the South Charleston girls basketball team this season.
In Tuesday’s Class AAA Region III co-final, that was again the case for the Black Eagles, who limited Woodrow Wilson to 11 field goals and 25 percent shooting to roll to a 51-29 victory.
“We wanted to slow them down a little bit and put some pressure on them,” SC coach Gary Greene said. “They lost one of their better guards and ball handlers (Cloey Frantz) and we thought we could get out on their shooters.
“We mixed some things in with the zone and we were fortunate enough that our kids really wanted it bad tonight. They jumped on every ball that was loose and almost got there in time to intercept passes. They scrambled like crazy tonight.”
With the win, South Charleston (20-5) advances to the state tournament where it will be a No. 5 seed and face No. 4 Wheeling Park at 11:15 a.m. on March 7.
The Black Eagles set the tone early in their second victory of the season over the Flying Eagles.
A 3-pointer by Maliha Witten gave SC a 7-2 lead and the Black Eagles got the advantage up to 15-6 before Laken Ball scored on a follow-up to pull Beckley to within seven after one quarter.
South Charleston’s Lavender Ward scored seven of her 11 points in the second quarter, while Woodrow Wilson managed only four points in the frame to face a 26-15 halftime deficit.
“We didn’t make any major adjustments defensively after the first quarter,” Greene said. “We just kind of locked in and just tried to play that zone the best we could play it.”
Things didn’t get any better on the offensive end for Beckley (14-10) during the third quarter, and SC reeled off the first six points of the second half to hold a 20-point lead after Genevieve Potter made a runner.
Later in the third, SC’s Myra Cuffee made a 3 and a floater that helped the Black Eagles hold a commanding 40-19 lead after three quarters.
“We couldn’t get shots to fall. We turned the ball over at crucial parts of the game,” Beckley coach Brian Nabors said. “They were able to get a lead on us and they were patient with their offense. We didn’t dirsupt them enough or play well enough to win.”
South Charleston maintained at least a 19-point lead throughout the fourth quarter, to beat the Flying Eagles by a similar margin to the regular season contest between the two teams, which the Black Eagles won 63-44.
Cuffee led all players with 15 points, while Witten had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The Black Eagles had five players with at least five rebounds as they grabbed 40 boards in all compared to Beckley’s 30 rebounds.
Woodrow Wilson committed 19 turnovers in what marked the seventh time this season SC has held an opponent to fewer than 30 points.
Ball’s 13 points led Beckley, but nobody else on the team scored more than seven in what was the Flying Eagles’ lowest offensive output of the season.
“We had some good looks in the first half, we just couldn’t knock them down,” Nabors said. “I think we lost our confidence.”