SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On a night it was held to a season low point total, Cabell Midland’s girls basketball team relied heavily on defense and rebounding at South Charleston.
Those two aspects, along with several key plays down the stretch, were a big factor in the Knights remaining unbeaten with a 49-45 road victory over the Black Eagles.
“It’s great to play a game like this, especially for such a young team,” Knights’ head coach Matt Adkins said. “The good thing is we’ve been here before. When we played Boyd County (Ky.) and Parkersburg South, we were down in the fourth quarter and won. There’s just no quit in the girls.”
South Charleston took a 41-40 lead on a Maliha Witten 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:10 to play. Witten added two free throws 11 seconds later, but the Black Eagles committed a costly turnover down the stretch that led to a runout layup for Rylie Allie, tying the game at 43 with 1:15 remaining.
“We thought they’d have to come out and foul and it kind of backfired on us,” South Charleston head coach Gary Greene said.
One free throw from the Knights’ Jazmyn Wheeler allowed Cabell Midland (11-0) to hold a 44-43 lead with 48 seconds left, but the Black Eagles (7-2) answered with a putback from Myra Cuffee to go back on top with 30 seconds left.
Trailing by one point in the late stages, Cabell Midland came up with a key offensive rebound that led to KK Potter’s layup and a one-point lead with 11 seconds to play. SC committed a turnover on the following possession, which combined with a technical foul, allowed the Knights to make three free throws in the final 4 seconds and preserve the win.
“I’m very pleased to get out of here with a win. Coach Greene is a veteran coach and always has the girls ready to go,” Adkins said. “Rylie Allie came up big with the steal and layup and that kind of turned the game around.”
CMHS had taken a 35-29 lead early in the fourth quarter following a triple from Potter. But Cuffee answered with five straight points and Mia Terry scored inside to tie the game at 36 with 4:35 remaining.
Cabell Midland’s Autumn Lewis connected from behind the arc put the Knights back on top and set the stage for the thrilling finish.
The two teams combined for 37 fourth-quarter points after producing only 57 through three quarters.
Neither team led by more than five throughout a first half that saw Cabell Midland lead at the break, 20-17. The Knights and Black Eagles both struggled with turnovers, which hampered both offenses. Each team had six field goals, while SC had 13 turnovers and the Knights had 12. Both teams took better care of the ball in the second half as SC finished with 20 turnovers to the Knights’ 19.
“We talked at halftime about giving too many possessions away and we were just throwing the ball to them and not taking advantage of some stuff,” Greene said. “They did take better care of the ball and we were throwing a lot better passes until that late one.”
Witten and Cuffee combined to score the first six points of the second half to give SC a 21-20 lead — its first advantage since 10-9 late in the first quarter.
Although it took the Knights until the 2:51 mark in the third quarter to score after halftime, they got a 3 from Potter to regain the lead at 23-21. Cabell Midland managed 10 points in the frame to hold a 30-27 lead entering the fourth.
Lewis led the Knights with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Allie scored 11 points in the win. Potter added nine points and Wheeler contributed eight points and nine boards, helping the Knights outrebound SC, 37-33.
Cuffee led all players with 22 points and on 9-of-16 shooting. Witten added 15 points, but the rest of the Black Eagles combined for only eight points on 4-of-26 shooting.
“This is one of the more proud moments of this year for us,” Greene said in defeat. “Those kids really laid it on the line.”