SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was evident from the beginning of Thursday's game that South Charleston's players couldn't wait to hit the court after missing practice the past two days because of snow and cold weather.
The Black Eagles scored the first 12 points and needed every bit of that cushion in fighting off Hurricane for a 74-62 victory. A crowd of about 600 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference West Division opener for both schools at the SC Community Center.
Sophomore guard Brandon Knapper scored a game-high 25 points and added four rebounds, three assists and six steals for SC (9-1), which rose to sixth in this week's state poll.
Junior guard A.D. Cunningham added 12 points, eight boards and three steals for the Black Eagles, and senior low post Kevin Williams donated 11 points and senior center Anthony Billings turned in 10 points, 13 caroms and four blocks.
"We were ready for this game,'' said Knapper. "We came out with a lot of intensity and players helped each other out. Coach [Vic Herbert] said this is a very important game, it's the first game in our division, and we just wanted to come out and punish them.''
The Black Eagles, who under Kanawha County's rules couldn't practice or play games Tuesday or Wednesday because classes were called off, came out in the opening quarter as if shot out of a cannon.
SC knocked down 10 of 16 shots, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, to race out to a 25-8 advantage. Four different players netted points during the 12-0 surge in the first 4:13.
Hurricane sliced its deficit to 10 points at 39-29 with 2:02 left in the second period, but the Black Eagles responded by scoring the final seven points of the quarter to take a seemingly commanding 17-point lead (46-29).
The Redskins wouldn't go away and closed within six points (53-47) with 11 seconds to go in the third quarter on back-to-back layups from senior forward Henry Sorsaia. SC sophomore shooting guard Kentre Grier, though, swished a 3 as he was falling out of bounds toward the Black Eagles' bench for a 56-47 edge heading into the final period.