McKinney led the way for Weaver in the Bearcats’ 71-58 victory over Saks, which was played 1 p.m. Weaver administrators allowed the students out of class to watch the contest.
McKinney scored a game-high 23 points and had a team-high 15 rebounds.
“I was scared and nervous at first, but when I’m nervous I tend to play better,” McKinney said. “When I warm up and get going the nervousness goes away.”
McKinney scored only five points while pulling down eight rebounds in the first half, but it was Saks that led 38-27 at the break, after the Wildcats used an 11-0 run at the beginning of the second quarter to take the lead.
It wasn’t until just past the middle of the third quarter that Weaver (6-2) regained the lead, scoring 13 straight points in the process.
“We were stagnant on offense and not moving in the second quarter,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “With the kids that we have, we have kids that can drive and shoot the 3, but we need space. When you don’t move you can do double teamed.
“The key to our second half was we played unselfish. We started distributing the ball around and that was the biggest difference in the game.”
After Saks (2-1) battled back to trail 58-56 midway through the fourth quarter, Weaver needed something to happen to keep its lead and get the crowd back in the game. McKinney stepped up.
On back-to-back trips down the court, Chris English found McKinney for consecutive 3-point baskets, which started a 10-0 run and ultimately put the game out of reach.
“They were huge, but don’t get too far away from the kick,” Hamby said. “I think with this team is what people don’t realize is there are several guys that can be ‘the guy.’ It just depends on what they want to give us. With Chris, you’re going to have to give something because he can go by you. When they decide what they want to give up, we respond. Thus far, Shon’D has been stepping up and making big shots. We’re excited about him.”
The win moved Weaver to 3-0 in Class 3A, Area 11 and put Saks at 0-1. Although the Bearcats are in the driver’s seat for a region championship half way through the season, Hamby didn’t buy into the record too much.
“It’s always big with this area because they’re good,” he said. “White Plains, Saks and Piedmont can all play ball, but we can’t be big headed because all these teams are going to come back and we have to play them there.”
Delo Forbes scored 19 points for Weaver, and English added 14. Saks was led by Daniel Heard, who scored 10 points and had 16 rebounds. Darion Coleman had 15 points Roc Green scored 12.
Saks girls 35, Weaver 5: The Saks defense shined bright, holding Weaver to single digits. Offensively, the Wildcats were led by Daja’ Johnson’s 13 points.
“We’re basing our philosophy on defense,” Saks coach Michelle Lively said. “We’re trying to instill in them to be strong on defense and do their job. Hopefully the wins will still come like they did today.”
After Saks held a strong 12-2 lead after the first quarter, the Wildcats (2-3) kept Weaver off the scoreboard in the second to take a commanding 21-2 lead into halftime.
Lively’s defensive philosophy continued to work in the third quarter when Saks did not allow a field goal. Offensively, Miracle Dennard and Aliyah Simmons each had six points. Pariss Glover had five.
Rayne Beck and Danejah Keith each scored two points for Weaver (1-5).
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star