CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston's depth and balance have kept its season afloat.
When you look at SC's roster coming into the state tournament and project what the Black Eagles might have looked like, there's a great divide.
At least four players who could have started - or been top subs - aren't there anymore:
When you throw in other personnel issues (leading scorer A.D. Cunningham and current starter Trevond Reese have each missed two games and No. 2 scorer Hunter Moles missed one), it's amazing that the Black Eagles (23-2) have hardly missed a beat.
Players like freshman Brandon Knapper, who led the team with 16 points in the regional win against Greenbrier East, freshman Kentre Grier, junior Tre Clark and senior Isaac Cosby have all played big roles down the stretch after getting little or no playing time during much of the regular season.
"Depth-wise, we knew we had that,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert. "Like I've said, some of our players were better than our starters - they just weren't as experienced. Now that some of those other guys are gone, they're getting experience and they're better.
"Brandon and Kentre and Clark and Cosby and those guys have helped us off the bench. Depth has not been a big problem. Our depth has bailed us out. We've had to go with other guys.''
On top of all that, season-long starting guard Devyn Harris was hampered by a virus for the regional and could only play about 10 minutes. Cunningham, who sat out the regional with a knee injury, is expected back for Thursday's game against Morgantown.
The largest cheering sections for the first day of the state tournament might involve a pair of Putnam County schools.
Buffalo and Hurricane play back-to-back games this morning, with the Bison meeting Charleston Catholic at 9:30 and the Redskins taking on Woodrow Wilson at about 11:15.
Apparently, the two schools have formed an alliance of sorts. You root for us, and we'll stick around and root for you.
"I think we're going to have that going for us,'' Buffalo coach Chuck Elkins said. "Hurricane plays right behind us, and our kids at school have been talking to the kids at Hurricane. So we might have a pretty good-sized crowd.''
Elkins said there probably won't be too many unattached fans roaming through the Civic Center early in the day, as three-quarters of the teams involved in the first two games are Kanawha Valley residents.
"I know we saved [the SSAC] a bunch of money for our game,'' said Elkins, noting that hotel rooms were unnecessary for the Buffalo and Catholic squads.