SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Revenge is still sweet even though the season is young.
South Charleston's defense didn't let down this time, propelling the host Black Eagles past St. Albans 48-40 Wednesday night. A crowd of about 250 attended the Mountain State Athletic Conference girls high school basketball matchup.
The Black Eagles (5-2) lost at St. Albans 58-54 Dec. 27, the last time SC stepped onto the court, so the taste of defeat was fresh. The second meeting Wednesday was the West Division opener for both squads, giving SC a leg up in the standings. The first game between the two teams was designated a nonconference meeting.
"It felt good,'' said SC sophomore wing Taliah Cashwell, who turned in an all-around performance with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocks. "I think they knew we were ready to come out and play. We all had to get back on 'D' and just stop them from shooting.''
The Black Eagles did just that, forcing 22 turnovers and blocking seven shots. After the Red Dragons (5-2) shot out to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter behind 5-of-11 shooting from the floor, SC limited SA to converting just 5 of 20 shots the rest of the way. The Red Dragons finished a paltry 10 of 30 (33.3 percent) shooting and also missed 10 foul shots (19 of 29).
Then freshman point guard Aaliyah Dunham, who scored a team-high 13 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third quarter to kick-start the Black Eagles' offense and turn a four-point lead into a 10-point SC advantage with 1:20 left in the period. Dunham's six points were part of a 9-0 run that gave the Black Eagles all the cushion they needed.
SA pulled within four points (37-33) with 5:27 left in the fourth after an 8-2 surge to start the period. SC restored order as freshman center Rhea Smith, who totaled eight of her 10 points in the final quarter, and Cashwell made back-to-back layups and Smith converted a putback for a 43-34 edge with 3:25 to go.
Junior forward Breanna Propst sank a pair from the free-throw line as SA closed to 47-40 at the 56.5-second mark, but despite the Black Eagles missing five straight foul shots, the Red Dragons couldn't inch any closer.
SC's Smith finished with 10 points, five boards and three blocks while freshman guard ShyAnne Dunham added six points and four steals. The Black Eagles, though, missed 16 3s and 11 foul shots (8 of 19).