by Bill Turner
Cave Spring 6’2″ guard Amin Abuhawwas has had a checkered basketball career at the Southwest County school.
He didn’t make the team as a ninth grader, and rarely came off the bench in the tenth. Maybe the time for some type of hoop clinic?
Tuesday afternoon in the Group AA Division 3 state semifinal at the Virginia Commonwealth University Siegel Center in Richmond, Abuhawwas, the River Ridge player-of-the-year, was the one who put on the clinic, pouring in 29 points, as Cave Spring roared past Fluvanna County 76-59 to advance to Saturday’s 1:00 pm final against defending champion Brunswick.
It will be Brunswick’s sixth consecutive trip to the final, with two of those, in 2009 and 2010, ending in losses to Cave Spring.
Tuesday afternoon it looked as if the Knights might be on the ropes against a talented Fluvanna team led by high-scoring senior guard YaYa Anderson.
Abuhawwas had picked up his second personal foul midway through the first quarter, and with the Knight’s leading scorer relegated to the bench, Fluvanna jumped on the opportunity to open a quick 9-point lead.
Cave Spring managed to keep the deficit in check, and trailed 14-11 after the first quarter.
Knights head coach Billy Hicks had little alternative but to send Abuhawwas back early in the second period, and the move turned out to be the game-changer.
“It was a no-brainer,” Hicks said of his move. “The game was getting away from us fast.”
Abuhawwas responded to his coach’s confidence by putting on a shooting exhibition during the next three minutes. He hit three consecutive bombs from behind the arc, and followed with a fourth bucket, in scoring Cave Spring’s first eleven points of the period.
When Knight junior Connor Baker hit a running floater with 7 seconds left in the quarter, Cave Spring went to the locker room up 29-27.
“We got #33 (Abuhawwas) on the bench, then we couldn’t extend the lead,” Fluvanna head coach Munro Rateau lamented in the media room afterward.
Fluvanna made some halftime adjustments to counter Abuhawwas’ 20 first-half points, but Cave Spring, led by junior guard Terrell Simmons, came out smoking after the break.
The Knights outscored the Flucos 26-11 in the third, increasing their lead to 17 heading to the final frame, which effectively put the game away. Cave Spring weathered one final Fluvanna run before sealing the win at the free throw line.
Abuhawwas, after the early pair of fouls, committed only one more the rest of the game. “I was a little worried when I picked up my second foul,” he admitted. “I just played smart the rest of the way.”
The Cave Spring defense again rose to the occasion as junior Jordan Bryant ruled the paint in pulling down 11 rebounds and taking four charges.
“We’re physically tough, and we’re mentally tough,” Hicks added. “No one gives us a chance. But, Saturday afternoon, we’ll show up.”
In addition to Abuhawwas’ game-high 29 points for Cave Spring, Simmons added 13, with Baker tacking on 12 for the Knights.