SOUTH CHARLESTON — It should’ve been a joyous, celebratory scene after the performance South Charleston put on in front of a home crowd on Wednesday night.
But the all-too-familiar sting of a critical injury once again clouded the mood for the Black Eagles.
Class AAA No. 6 SC was marvelous in its trapping, half-court, man-to-man defense, turning that effort into quick offense in a 70-28 blistering of visiting Spring Valley (5-3). But as good as it looked for the team, the outlook was feared to be bleak for one of the Black Eagles starters.
Junior point guard Keke Terrell, who missed all of last season with a torn left ACL, went down in a heap early in the third quarter with an apparent right knee injury, one that was feared to be serious. Terrell was scheduled to see a doctor on Thursday morning.
It’s a sour case of deja vu for the Black Eagles (7-1), who lost Terrell and junior post player Mia Terry all of last season with knee injuries. A third starter, graduated senior Lavender Ward, played through a partially torn knee ligament of her own during the second half of last year.
“It doesn’t look too good now but she’ll battle back if she can,” SC coach Gary Greene said. “I’d sure trade this game for her, that’s for sure.”
Terrell had arguably played her best half of basketball since returning this season, scoring six first-half points, grabbing eight rebounds and playing a significant role in a masterful defensive effort.
SC sprinted out to a 14-0 lead and, after the teams exchanged a couple of buckets, went on a 22-3 run to put the game well in hand. The Timberwolves’ Brea Saunders hit a 3-pointer at the second-quarter horn, but it was a band aid over a flesh wound as SC carried a 38-10 lead into the break.
In that first half, Spring Valley was coaxed into 15 turnovers and shot just 4 for 30 from the floor. The Wolves finished 8 for 54 from the field and hit just 3 of 26 3-pointers, a crucial element to Spring Valley’s offense.
“I think defense carried us a lot tonight,” Greene said. “We haven’t played for 12 days and we’ve really been working on defense and the kids responded to it.”
SC’s defense — a trapping, switching, man-to-man blitzkrieg — is tough to nail down, and on Wednesday was even tougher to crack.
“It’s hard to scout us because we don’t know what we’re doing,” Greene joked. “It’s kind of a match-up and we’re trapping in a couple of different places, but the kids are adjusting to it.”
Adjusting is something the Wolves never could quite do. Spring Valley coach Bo Miller credited South Charleston as well as a dreadful shooting performance that was simply one of those nights.
“Our four shooters couldn’t make a 3 the first half,” Miller said. “You live and die by the 3 and we died a pretty tragic death in the first half.
“They applied a lot of pressure to us and we didn’t handle it well. That half-court trap threw us off a little bit, we weren’t expecting that.”
Maliha Witten scored 16 points to lead SC with Myra Cuffee right behind with 15 points and 14 rebounds. SC registered assists on 15 of 25 baskets and held a 42-26 advantage in rebounding.
Caroline Asbury scored eight points to pace Spring Valley.