SC girls get second shot at Greenbrier East in MSAC title game
South Charleston looks to put the lessons learned during its first meeting with Greenbrier East into practice today.
The Black Eagles (17-3), the Mountain State Athletic Conference East Division winner, will square off with the Spartans (20-0), the West Division champions, at 6 p.m. in the girls title game of the MSAC Night of Champions at the South Charleston Community Center.
Spring Valley (16-5), runner-up in the West Division, will take on Woodrow Wilson (14-7), the runner-up in the East Division, at 2 p.m. in the second-place game at the SCCC.
If the SC-East showdown didn't already have enough flavor - the Spartans are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the latest Class AAA Associated Press poll while the Black Eagles are No. 3 - it's also a chance for SC to get some revenge for a 58-55 home loss to East on Jan. 10.
"It's our championship to try and defend,'' said SC coach Gary Greene, who has guided the Black Eagles to back-to-back MSAC championships. "We've been practicing pretty hard this week to make a run at it. I think the three losses we got we've hopefully learned there were several things we needed to correct.''
Greene said the loss to East exposed some of SC's flaws.
"The kids have worked hard,'' the SC coach said of his players. "The home loss to Greenbrier East kind of gave them a little more drive. We're capable of taking care of [those deficiencies] and if we do we're going to be a better team for having those losses.
"[The Greenbrier East game] made us realize we're going to have to take the good and the bad with the youth off the bench. We're seven to eight deep right now and we feel confident we can give our starters a little bit of breathing room. Our freshmen have grown up a lot in the last three or four weeks. I like our approach to some things.''
The SC-East matchup also pits two of the top contenders for the state player of the year award against each other. Black Eagles senior guard Brittany Gordon is the conference's top scorer at 23.2 points per game while Spartans junior guard Bianca Andre' is fourth in the MSAC in scoring at 20.0.
SC senior forward Keke Allen adds 18.1 points and double-digit rebounds while senior guard Alexxis Tunstalle chips in 12.4 points per game and plays lock-down defender and senior forward Gel Villanueva donates 10.7 and provides help on the boards.
Andre' is far from a one-player show for East, getting help from freshman Anna Hammaker (15.6 points), the daughter of former major league pitcher Atlee Hammaker, and sophomore Chaunte McDowell (11.7). The Spartans' Cheyenne Hooper, a freshman who averages 7.0 points, used her 6-foot-6 frame to cause some problems for SC in the first meeting, blocking 10 shots.
"Anytime you can play the No. 1 team in the state it's a challenge for you,'' Greene said "We're looking forward to it, to see where we stand in this part of the season.''
The Spring Valley-Woodrow second-place game is also a matchup of top-10 teams.
No. 9 Spring Valley lost to No. 8 Woodrow Wilson 58-50 at home earlier in the season, but has since won eight of its last 10 games.
The Timberwolves fell at SC 67-56 Feb. 3, which determined the West Division winner. Spring Valley's only other loss since it last played the Flying Eagles was a 64-57 setback at George Washington.
Woodrow has been up and down since defeating Spring Valley, losing five of its last 13 games. The Flying Eagles played without their leading scorer, Olivia Moore, in their last game. She is sixth in the MSAC in scoring at 18.6 points per game.
Senior Megan Perry paces Spring Valley at 12.9 points and 6-0 freshman Madison Morris chips in 11.1. Senior Alexis Allen is the only other double-figure scorer for the Flying Eagles, adding 10.7 per game.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.