SOUTH CHARLESTON — Jonah Cosby and Jordan Kinney, Kanawha County rivals in high school, got to play on the same team Friday night.
The end result was a remarkable comeback.
Cosby poured in 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds and his South team scored the final nine points to register a 115-106 victory in the WVADA North-South All-Star Basketball Classic. An estimated crowd of 500 attended at the South Charleston Community Center.
The win was the South’s fourth straight in the series and bumped its all-time lead to 27-6 since the all-star game was revived in 1983.
However, it took a determined rally, as the South trailed 70-53 at halftime and went down by as many as 24 points early in the second half under a barrage of North 3-pointers.
Cosby, who played last season at George Washington after transferring from SC, formed a formidable tandem with Kinney, the two-sport standout from Capital who will also be playing in tonight’s North-South football game.
They combined for 32 of their 52 points in the second half as a flurry of North turnovers led to South points at the other end. Cosby hit 10 of 15 shots, including the game’s only dunk and was selected as his team’s MVP in a media vote. Kinney finished with 20 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals.
“We came out real lackadaisical,’’ Cosby said, “thinking it was an all-star game and you don’t really have to play hard. When we were down 20, we got real embarrassed.
“In the locker room [at halftime], we just made up our minds that we weren’t going to let it happen again. Then we started coming back, got a little energy and the crowd got into it. We just kept on working. We didn’t give up.’’
After trailing 79-55 in the opening moments of the second half, the South finally regained the lead 95-93 on a pair of Cosby free throws with 7:07 remaining.
The North’s Tavon Horton (Fairmont Senior) knocked down back-to-back 3s to pull his team into a 106-all deadlock with 3:20 left. But those proved to be the final points for the North.
Noah Frampton (Poca) sank a pair of foul shots at the 1:52 mark to put the South ahead for good at 108-106. Justin Cogar (Westside) tipped in a fast-break follow shot and Kinney added another transition goal to up the advantage to 112-106.
Cosby then iced it by making 3 of 4 at the foul line in the final seconds.
“It was fun coming out and playing on this court again,’’ Cosby said. “I was real comfortable because I come down here every day and play, shoot around. I just feel at home.’’
Cosby said he and Kinney got together at halftime and decided not to let their high school careers end with a loss.
“Definitely,’’ he said. “Me and him talked and said we’re not letting this happen the second half. We’re coming out and playing as hard as we can. Go as hard as we can until we get subbed out. And that’s exactly what we did, and we came back.’’
The North played into the South’s hands by turning the ball over 26 times (including 14 in the second half) and also cooling down from distance. After draining 11 of 27 from 3-point range in the first half (with makes by seven different players), the North was a mere 4 of 22 in the second half on its 3s.
“We rushed our shots, really,’’ said Horton, the North’s MVP award winner. “In the first half, all our shots was falling as we was happy. And then we came out and thought we was going to do the same thing. Shots going in was going out, and we ended up losing it. And half of it is, I’m the point guard.’’
Horton ended up with 15 points, eight assists and four steals.
Also in double figures for the North were Justin Noble (Robert C. Byrd) with 16 points, Ty Dobson (Parkersburg South) and CJ King (Morgantown) both with 13, Jalen Smith (Jefferson) with 12 and Gage Wix (Williamstown) with 10.
Noble missed just one of his eight shots, a 3-point try.
Backing Cosby and Kinney for the South were Jacob Kilgore (Spring Valley), the state’s player of the year, with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, Frampton with 12 points and Anthony Meadows (Huntington) with 10 points.
The South’s Josh Butcher (Chapmanville Regional) was the big winner in the pregame skills competitions, taking both the free-throw shooting and 3-point contests. He made all 27 of his foul shots, edging the North’s Travis Clower (Hampshire), who hit 26 of 27. Jalen Smith of Jefferson captured the slam-dunk contest.
A 50-50 drawing during the game by the West Virginia Athletic Directors Association raised $600 for Anna’s Army, a fund set up to support Parkersburg South student and former cheerleader Anna Gordon, who suffers from Friedreich’s Ataxia, a condition that causes progressive damage to the nervous system.
The West Virginia Athletic Directors Association, which sponsors the game, awarded $500 scholarships to the North’s Brennan Smith (Oak Glen) and the South’s Butcher.