The Southwest County basketball rivalry between Cave Spring and Hidden Valley traditionally has come down to a close game up for grabs at the final buzzer.
Tuesday night’s game at the Hidden Valley gym didn’t fit the mold.
In a dominating performance at both ends of the court, Hidden Valley controlled the tempo and rolled to the easy 48-34 River Ridge win over the Knights. It was a dramatic turnaround from a close Cave Spring win when the two teams met in January.
“Give Hidden Valley credit,” Cave Spring head coach Billy Hicks noted afterward. “Their 7th, 8th and 9th players outplayed our 1st and 2nd players. They beat us in every aspect of the game. Their offense slowed it down and was deliberate while we stood around. On defense, they packed it in and we couldn’t make shots.”
For the Knights, it was a case of Murphy’s Law. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. To make matters worse, standout Cager Hicks went down late in the opening quarter with what was still being diagnosed after the game as something between a severe ankle sprain or possible break.
Things looked good for the Knights when they came out of the gate and scored the game’s first six points. Hidden Valley didn’t get its first points until 3:15 remained in the opening quarter, but the Titans finished on a 12-3 run to lead 12-9 after one.
Hidden Valley put the pedal down to start the second, and when Graham Whitaker hit his third 3-pointer of the game the Titans led 24-13. Cave Spring would never get the deficit into single digits the rest of the night. A J.J. DeVaughn bomb from behind-the-arc sent the Titans to the break with a 27-15 advantage.
Another Whitaker trey pushed the Titan lead to 35-15 midway through the third quarter, before Hidden Valley took a commanding 38-21 lead to the final eight minutes.
The Titan offense moved to the perimeter to begin the final quarter, clearly content on milking the clock with each possession. Hidden Valley was in the bonus by the 5:43 mark, and their lead remained between 14 and 17 points the rest of the way.
“It was nice to see our guys play together tonight,” Hidden Valley head coach Troy Wells said. “They gave a great effort for 32 minutes. Cave Spring is a talented team, but our kids played hard. That’s all you can ask for as a coach. Tonight we played with passion and intensity.”
Wells acknowledged the slow tempo played to the Titans’ favor.
“We’re not a team that can compete in a game that gets to 60-70 points. We kept the score down and competed for four quarters.”
DeVaughn led the Hidden Valley scoring with 14 points, while Whitaker added 12.
Adam Sledd led Cave Spring with 11 points, with senior Zac Foutz chipping in 10 for the Knights.