The line of cars leaving Hidden Valley High School Tuesday night had traffic backed up for nearly a half a mile.
No surprises. Few, if any, in the packed Titan gym left before the final buzzer sounded.
In a classic matchup between the Southwest County rivals, Hidden Valley’s Dylan Hodson’s potential game-tying runner fell off the rim in the final second and Cave Spring added a pair of free throws with :00.3 left to escape with the 46-42 win in the River Ridge regular season finale for both teams.
“What a game!” Cave Spring head coach Billy Hicks said afterward. “It was a classic Cave Spring-Hidden Valley matchup. In the end, Hidden Valley had the ball in the hands of their best player in Hodson. He got past us and got off a good shot. He makes that one most of the time.”
The game was back-and-forth from the outset. The Knights led 8-4 after one quarter, with Hidden Valley taking a 18-17 advantage to the halftime locker room. The teams stayed within a basket most of the third, with the Titans holding a 30-29 lead heading into the final frame.
With both student sections energizing the action, the best was yet to come.
The final quarter saw nine lead changes. Cave Spring’s Terrell Simmons and Jon Evans both hit key 3-pointers for the Knights, while Hidden Valley’s J.J. DeVaughn’s trey and Hodson’s 3-point play answered for the Titans.
Hodson’s pair of free throws with 1:47 left gave Hidden Valley their final lead at 42-41 with what proved to be the final Titan points.
Ben Lacy canned two free throws for Cave Spring and Simmons followed with one-of-two from the charity stripe for a 44-42 Knight lead. Hidden Valley got their final chance after a missed Knight free throw with :12.7 left, but Hodson’s final attempt fell just off the mark. Connor Baker added two free throws to cement the final margin.
“We had control and let it slip away,” Hidden Valley head coach Troy Wells noted. “You can’t ask for more. We had four or five opportunities, but just couldn’t close it out. The last play was designed for Dylan to take it to the hole. It just didn’t fall.”
“There’s a fine line between winning and losing in the final minute of a tight ball game,” Wells added. “Those things bit us tonight.”
Simmons led the Cave Spring scoring with 10 points, while Lacy and Baker each added 9.
Hodson had a game-high 16 points for the Titans, with DeVaughn knocking down 10 for Hidden Valley.
BILL TURNER game story/photos