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Cunningham comes through in SC victory

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For good reason, South Charleston coach Vic Herbert points to his seven seniors as a huge factor in the Black Eagles' success so far this season.

But when Class AAA No. 1 SC found itself in a sticky situation on Thursday night, it was a sophomore who shined the brightest.

A.D. Cunningham scored 14 of his team-best 19 points after halftime and grabbed 13 rebounds for South Charleston, which erased a three-point halftime deficit and ran away with a 72-51 win over St. Albans at the South Charleston Community Center.

"He's a kid that has a chance to make first-team all-state as a sophomore," Herbert said of Cunningham. "He's on a good team that should get some recognition, and as long as he keeps doing what he's doing he'll have a chance."

Cunningham sure played like an all-state selection Thursday as he combined with senior Hunter Moles and junior Kevin Williams to wreak havoc on the glass.

The trio was especially effective after halftime and on the offensive end, keeping possessions alive until South Charleston (13-1 overall, 10-0 Mountain State Athletic Conference) finally began to find its shot toward the end of the game.

Moles ended with 17 points while Williams grabbed eight boards.

Senior guard Rashaud Kincaid also kept a firm handle on the ball and the offense, dishing out five assists to go with his 11 points.

"[Herbert] told us not to get down on ourselves and keep playing defense," Cunningham said. "That's what's won all of our games that have been dogfights. He told us to just do what we know."

Herbert's halftime speech, or lack thereof, was set up by a 28-10 run over the first and second quarters by the Red Dragons (4-9, 3-7) that was as impressive as it was unexpected.

SC jumped out of the gates to a 17-2 lead and looked to be on cruise control, but St. Albans, behind Nathan McNeil, recovered and started finding its way through the Black Eagles' vaunted pressure.

McNeil hit 3 of 6 3-pointers en route to 19 points and the Red Dragons hit 6 of 12 from beyond the arc as a team, but 25 turnovers and a drastic rebounding disadvantage proved too much to overcome in the end.

SC also took 64 shots compared to just 33 for the Red Dragons.

"I really feel like as the game went on, we were playing six or seven guys and it wore us down physically," St. Albans coach Marshall Kiser said. "We're not going to play catch-up against South Charleston. I was very proud of our effort and I thought our kids fought hard.

"South Charleston has so much talent and they're so athletic that teams like our team and a lot of teams in this conference have to play so close to perfect to be competitive at the end, and it's so hard to do that."

To his point, 11 different players scored for South Charleston compared to only six for St. Albans.

The deciding run came with the score tied at 35 midway through the third quarter as Cunningham scored eight points during a 26-6 stretch.

Taylor Clark added 15 points for the Red Dragons.

Cunningham, Kincaid and Moles had four steals apiece for South Charleston.

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pritt@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.

 


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