After the No. 8 Spartans (20-5) cut the SC lead to 39-36 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Grier and Knapper answered with back-to-back baskets to make it 43-36. East's Derek Weiford scored to cut the deficit to five, but Grier again answered with a tip-in, and Knapper sank the first two of his six fourth-quarter free throws.
Although the Spartans stayed close, they had to foul, and SC rarely missed.
Knapper's and Grier's play offered a hint of SC's next three seasons, said Herbert.
"You got a glimpse of what the future is going to be,'' said the SC coach. "Those kids are going to be tremendous players. And really they're probably a little bit better than the players who were playing in front of them but aren't with us anymore. But those players were just so experienced. And now these guys have stepped up and are getting the experience and you're not afraid to throw 'em in the fire. They just did a super job.''
It's not the first time, said Herbert, that his reserves have helped save the day.
"It seems like every time this year that we've had a suspension or an injury and a sickness, somebody on the bench has stepped up and filled in for the starter and done a good job, and that's what happened tonight,'' he said.
Herbert said Cunningham should be cleared to practice on Saturday and should be 100 percent for next week's state tournament.
SC limited the Spartans' Rondale Watson, who averages 21.8 points, to 15 on 3-of-8 shooting. Bryce Woodliff led East with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Hunter Moles contributed 10 points and led SC with eight rebounds. Kincaid had nine points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.