SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The spotlight was shining squarely on the South Charleston Community Center Thursday night, and the host Black Eagles stole the show.
In more ways than one.
Junior A.D. Cunningham was whirr of activity, turning in 17 points, six rebounds and eight steals as South Charleston ran roughshod over Greenbrier East 67-41 in a matchup of Class AAA ranked teams and championship contenders.
SC bounced back nicely from a 77-60 loss to Woodrow Wilson in Saturday's Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game.
The visiting Spartans (19-3), tied for sixth in the state, were forced into a whopping 28 turnovers - 22 of those SC steals. Nine different Black Eagles had at least one swipe and 10 of SC's 29 baskets came immediately following thefts.
"To me, we just played hard,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert. "It was obvious they didn't want to be guarded like we were guarding them.''
West Virginia University coach Bob Huggins was expected to be in attendance on Thursday, but did not make the trip. However, there was still a buzz of anticipation in the house and Marshall assistant coach Mark Cline was on hand to watch, most likely to see Spartans junior guard Rondale Watson, one of the state's top talents and a player of the year candidate.
"They're loaded with individual talent,'' Herbert said, "as with as athletic as a few of their guys are - especially their two guards - that's pretty impressive to take the ball like we did. Our on-ball pressure was just tremendous. Giving up 41 points to those guys - we did a good job defensively.''
After entering the game averaging 22.4 points, Watson was held to 11 on 3-of-9 shooting. He did turn in seven rebounds, five assists and a nasty tip-dunk following a teammate's missed shot. He was guarded straight up most of the night by SC senior Trevond Reese.
Watson had a lot of company for East, which shot only 32.6 percent overall, including a 6 of 24 efforts on 3-pointers.
"When you've got your leading scorer with 11 points, that's not much,'' said Greenbrier East coach Jim Justice. "It was just one of those things. We just don't see that kind of performance from us day in and day out, that's for sure.