BECKLEY, W.Va. - This time, Capital's players got the message, loud and clear.
One day after being ravaged inside by Lewis County's John Riley, the Cougars bounced back in a big way Saturday afternoon, downing Preston 76-59 in the boys consolation round of the 25th Big Atlantic Classic at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Carrington Morris netted 18 points without attempting a 3-pointer, Bryce Goldsmith added 16 points and seven rebounds and Miguel Bays came off the bench to score 13 points with three 3-point goals for the Class AAA No. 3 Cougars (7-2).
But more importantly, Capital won the rebounding battle, collecting 37 rebounds to the Knights' 25. Against Lewis, Riley grabbed 20 rebounds, outrebounding the Cougars (18) all by himself.
"I think we did a lot of things better,'' said Capital coach Carl Clark. "It was like the difference between night and day. We played more as a team.
"We got on them pretty hard last night. We preached to them at the beginning of the game that in order for us to do well, we have to play together as a team every night, and we haven't been doing that. We've been playing good enough to stay in ballgames and maybe win at the end, but against teams like these, you cannot go back and forth. We have to make stops on defense.''
Preston (7-5) was hurt by the absence of 6-foot-6 junior Matt Vero, who was ill Saturday and taken to the hospital, according to Knights coach Barry Sanders. Also, Capital welcomed the return of its top rebounder, Brad Grose, who sat out Friday's loss after twisting his knee in practice on Wednesday.
Grose played just 14 minutes but ripped down a team-high 10 rebounds and blocked two shots.
"They didn't have their big guy,'' Clark said, "and we got Brad back. It makes a difference.''
Jimmy Galusky poured in 25 points for Preston, which shot an efficient 52.3 percent, but the Knights could never stem the flow of turnovers against Capital's pressure defense. Preston finished with 24 miscues, many of which led directly to Capital baskets.