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Midland falls to No. 1 South Charleston, 54-36

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

ONA -- Sometimes basketball comes down to a simple concept.

If you can't get the ball past half-court, you're going to have trouble scoring.

A simple enough concept, but there's nothing simple about breaking the pressure of top-ranked Class AAA team South Charleston.

The Black Eagles forced Cabell Midland into 26 turnovers and had solid balance all-around to earn a 54-36 win over the Knights in high school boys basketball action on Wednesday night.

"Teams like South Charleston put a great deal of intensity on you and it permeates throughout the game," Cabell Midland coach Matt Stead said. "They put the pressure on and we didn't

The game was riddled with turnovers from the onset as both teams coughed the ball up on their first three possessions.

South Charleston used its speed and athleticism on the defensive end to knock the ball away and turn the defensive strength into transition points as the Knights struggled to keep pace.

The Black Eagles built a double-digit lead to end the first half on account of the steals and transition, and the hounding defense took its toll on the Knights both mentally and physically.

After the turnover-laden first half, Cabell Midland quickly became passive about advancing the ball up the court, settling for passes backward in the diamond press rather than forward.

Essentially, the Knights started reacting to what South Charleston's pressure was doing instead of taking the ball at the Black Eagles and forcing them to react to quick ball movement.

The passive nature of the Knights allowed South Charleston to get its traps set, thus leading to turnover after turnover on the night.

"It's got to be a quick read because if you allow them to close that trap, you're dead," Stead said. "A lot of times, we were hesitating to make the right pass -- especially in their diamond press. Once you hesitate, they've got you."

The energy expended to advance the ball up the court took its toll on Cabell Midland. When the Knights did get the ball into the frontcourt, they weren't able to knock shots down.

Cabell Midland shot just 29 percent from the field, which included having 17 of their 29 misses coming from inside the paint.

"You might get a good look, but you spend so much energy getting that good look that you lose focus on your shot," Stead said. "That's the difference between a make or a miss. Great defenses challenge you on every possession and it was definitely a challenge for us."

South Charleston used a strong third quarter to break the game open, outscoring the Knights 16-6 in the period to take a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Tre Clark came off the bench to lead South Charleston with 10 points while Ra'Shaud Kincaid and Devon Harris each added eight in the win.

Dakota Leonard finished with 11 points to lead the Knights, who return to action with a 1:30 p.m. game at Huntington High on Friday.

SOUTH CHARLESTON 14 12 16 12 -- 54: Clark 10, Kincaid 8, Harris 8, Reese 6, Cunningham 4, Knapper 6, Risher 4, Cosby 4, Brown 4

CABELL MIDLAND 7 7 6 16 -- 36: Leonard 11, Bickford 3, Pettit 4, Harbour 3, Adkins 5, Wilcox 3, Dailey 4, Beckett 1, Matthews 2