SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Coming into Saturday's cross-town rivalry, much of the talk surrounded George Washington's Jon Elmore, a guard who played for two seasons at South Charleston, transfered out of state for a year before settling in with the Patriots for this his senior season.
After the game, much of the talk will and should surround the guard still playing for SC.
Elmore and his Patriots controlled most of the game but it was Black Eagles sophomore Brandon Knapper who took over late, scoring 23 of his 30 points in the second half, including two free throws with .6 seconds left to give South Charleston a wild 63-62 win at the SC Community Center in front of a raucous, standing-room-only crowd.
GW's Anthony Dean hit a pair of free throws after drawing A.D. Cunningham's fifth foul with 14.8 seconds left to give the Patriots a 62-61 lead. That came after Cunningham had hit one of two with 34 seconds left to give the Black Eagles a one-point advantage.
But after Dean's shots and a South Charleston timeout, Knapper ran down the clock and was fouled by Elmore on a 3-point attempt from the top of the key just before time expired.
Knapper missed the first one to heighten the drama, but hit the second to tie it up and, after a George Washington timeout, stroked the third to provide the final margin.
"He's special," SC coach Vic Herbert said of Knapper. "To be a sophomore, he steps up and hits a big shot on a designed play on Thursday night [against Huntington] - I just wanted Brandon to get the shot again. He went up and it was an obvious foul, he got hammered. He stepped up and even after he missed the first one I knew that this kid is such a competitor he was going to make the next two, and he did."
"It was tough, I had to calm down after I missed the first shot, and on the second one I just stepped up, shot my shot and it went in," Knapper said. "[The timeout] made it even tougher because I had players on my back telling me, 'It's OK, it's OK.' I just basically calmed down, took deep breaths, and knocked it down."
It was a tough way for GW (9-3) to lose a game in which it led by as many as nine points midway through the third quarter.
"It was a great game," GW coach Rick Greene said. "We hit that cold spot [in the second half] where we got stuck and they got back in it. I thought it was a great ball game. Obviously we don't like the ending, you don't see them end like that very much. Usually you let the kid make a play or he doesn't make a play, but it's still a great ballgame. Give Knapper credit, he hit two out of three to win it."
Elmore scored a game-high 32 points (including 5 of 11 from 3-point range), grabbed 11 rebounds and fired away from all over the court while being double-teamed, trapped and played one-on-one by SC's best defenders, Shawn Cunningham and Kentre Grier.
Even after Knapper's winning free throws, the MSAC's leading scorer got one more look at an off-balance, contested 3 off a long inbounds pass, but after a turn and a dribble, his attempt hit wide left off the backboard.