CHARLESTON — Folks around West Virginia learned last season about Chandler Schmidt, who burst out of the gate as a freshman and led Cabell Midland into the final four of the Class AAA state tournament.
Maybe this season those same fans will discover the Knights’ K.K. Siebert.
Siebert, a 6-foot-4 junior, racked up 15 of his 18 points in the second half Thursday night as Midland held off several late charges to remain unbeaten by posting a 72-62 Mountain State Athletic Conference victory at Capital.
Schmidt, now a sophomore point guard, led the Knights (8-0) in scoring with 19 points and the impressive Siebert donated 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals before leaving late in the game with leg cramps. Siebert made his final seven shots from the floor, most of them coming as he drove around and through Cougars defenders.
“He did a really good job,” said J.J. Martin, Midland’s first-year coach. “We’ve been getting on K.K. lately about him putting it on the floor. He’s kind of been wanting to play like a big man, but we tell him, ‘You’ve got all the capability of putting it on the floor.’ Capital is going to play man-to-man defense with the best of them and he was able to make some plays and dribble around and get to the rim. K.K.’s a big piece of the team.”
The Knights, ranked No. 2 in AAA, got double-figure scoring efforts from two other players as freshman Dominic Schmidt — Chandler’s younger brother — had 11 points and 6-9 Sean Marcum chipped in 10 points with eight rebounds.
Cabell Midland stormed into a 19-5 lead in the first quarter as Capital went 2 of 14 from the floor and committed five turnovers. The Knights, meanwhile, went 4 of 8 from 3-point range and often were able to break the Cougars’ pressure by heaving long inbound passes.
J.J. Martin agreed that the Knights weren’t intimidated by the prospect of playing against Capital, which received a boost when Kerion Martin returned to the lineup. The Marshall football recruit and the basketball team’s most experienced player had been rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered in November and was appearing in his first game.
“No fear,” J.J. Martin said of his players. “They trust themselves and they trust each other. We talked about that yesterday. We know Capital really likes to get up in you on the press and kind of overplay, so we worked on a few things and sent a few guys long, and it just worked out today. They never really made an adjustment to guard it, so we kind of kept doing it until the end of the game.”
Capital, which was 8 of 34 shooting in the first half, fell behind by as many as 15 points before it started to shave away that deficit in the second half. The Cougars whittled it to 42-38 when De’Mahjae Clark soared in for a fast-break layup midway into the third quarter, but the Knights bumped it back to 56-41 late in the period.
The closest Capital came after that was 59-53 with 5:34 left in the game on a pair of free throws by Daimarquis Brooks. Midland went 8 of 14 at the foul line in the final quarter to help protect its lead.
“We’re inconsistent,” said Cougars coach Matt Greene. “That’s where we’re at right now. We’re getting better. We see progress each day, actually each game. But you can’t come out against a good team and turn the ball over and give up offensive rebounds. You just can’t do that and expect to beat the No. 2 team in the state.”
Two Cougars turned in double-doubles — Martin had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Brooks added 12 points and 12 rebounds. Teammate Karrington Hill, who knocked down five 3-pointers, just missed a double-double of his own (17 points, eight rebounds).