The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

February 10, 2014

Tonight’s Woodrow-South Charleston game could be eye-opener

The calendar may say February, but it’s clearly going to feel like March tonight for the Class AAA showdown between No. 2 South Charleston and No. 4 Woodrow Wilson at South Charleston High School.

If you like high school basketball, this one will be worth the drive. The Flying Eagles — after getting Brent Osborne and Donte Nabors back into the lineup, after missing some early games with injuries — have won 11 straight to run their record to 12-2 and steadily climb up the rankings. Woodrow’s trademark pressure defense has been in full effect in recent games, and Nabors, a state player of the year candidate a year ago, is starting to look more and more comfortable playing on the ankle he injured against Oak Hill early in the season. The senior guard scored 29 points in a blowout win over Cabell Midland on Friday. Woodrow is balanced in its scoring efforts, though, and has shown the ability to find points on the perimeter and in the paint.

But don’t expect South Charleston to be intimidated. The Black Eagles (14-1) have won 10 straight since losing to rival Capital in overtime on Jan. 9 and look poised to make another deep run in the playoffs. Last year, SCHS made it all the way to the Class AAA semifinals before falling to the Flying Eagles, who missed a 17th state championship by just five points in a loss to Martinsburg in the title game.

The rematch will include plenty of talent on both sides. South Charleston’s Brandon Knapper, a sophomore, is one of the Mountain State Athletic Conference’s top scorers, averaging nearly 20 points per game. He scored 37 points in a win over Spring Valley last week. A.D. Cunningham is averaging more than 14 points per game to add to the SCHS offense.

If those numbers aren’t enough to grab your interest, maybe the MSAC standings will.

Woodrow currently leads the MSAC East, while South Charleston is on top of the West. The teams could meet again in the MSAC Night of Champions, but what’s wrong with a little preview?

Then there’s the region picture.

Tonight’s game will finally give basketball fans a chance to see how one of the top teams in Region 3, Section 2, Woodrow Wilson, matches up with one of the elite from Region 3, Section 1, South Charleston. It was supposed to happen in the Big Atlantic Classic with Greenbrier East meeting up with Capital, but the then-No. 3 Cougars didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, losing to Lewis County in the semifinal, taking the top 10 showdown off the table.

There’s been a lot of debate about the chances of both Greenbrier East and Woodrow Wilson making it out of Section 2 and into the state tournament, but evidence of how the teams from our area match up with those from the Kanawha Valley has been limited.

There’s been enough talk this basketball season. It’s time to watch how it plays out on the court, and tonight’s game could provide some answers.

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