ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- It's been tough to maintain that razor's edge when the season has had so many fits and starts because of first snow then a polar vortex of artic cold and now a Kanawha Valley-wide water outage.
South Charleston finally found its rhythm in the second half Monday afternoon in cruising past Riverside 69-47. A crowd of about 600 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup at St. Albans High School, which hosted the two teams since that is one of the only areas in the Valley with potable water after a chemical leak Thursday.
It wasn't pretty at times Monday for the Black Eagles (5-1), who were No. 7 in the Associated Press AAA poll released Monday. SC was sloppy early on, which showed up in its 39.1 percent shooting and 14 missed free-throw attempts.
Then after halftime, SC turned up the full-court pressure, converting steals into easy layups in turning its 12-point lead at the break (30-18) into a rout. The Black Eagles forced 22 turnovers, while committing just 10 of their own, and came up with 19 steals.
"We played with a lot of intensity in the second half,'' said SC sophomore guard Brandon Knapper, who is one of two sophomores starting at guard. "We weren't like ourselves defensive-wise, but it was still good.
"It's really tough not practicing a lot and not going through the plays. Some players don't even know the plays that much. We just come out here and played our heart out.''
Junior A.D. Cunningham turned in 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals for the Black Eagles while 6-foot-6 senior Anthony Billings pitched in 14 points, 14 boards and three blocks. SC senior Jordan Lewis added 14 points, five rebounds and three steals and Knapper totaled 14 points on 6-of-10 accuracy from the field.
"I was tickled with the way we played in the second half,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert, whose squad bounced back after a tough overtime loss at Capital last week. "This team is going to be a work in progress. I thought we'd have a loss before we played Capital, and I think we're going to have two or three early because of the inexperience factor.
"We've got two seniors that hadn't got much playing time because this is the first year they've been eligible, then you've got two sophomore guards. I don't think you'll be able to measure this team at the end of the year by their win-loss record. I think by the end they've got a chance to be pretty good.''