Cave Spring used some early dominance in the paint by senior Jordan Bryant to open a 9-0 lead, and followed with a career-high 20 points by freshman Jaret Lipps, as the Knights easily dispatched Tazewell 78-57 in a game not as close as the final score indicated.
The Knights led 16-6 after the first quarter and took a 38-17 advantage to the locker room at the half, as the Cave Spring defense kept the Bulldog shooting corps out of sync all evening.
Tazewell was playing without their top scorer, Noah Walker, who was out with an eye injury. The loss weighed heavily on the Bulldog offense.
“They were clearly missing their best player,” Cave Spring head coach Billy Hicks noted afterward. “He’s tall and their top scorer. It definitely showed they were caught short.”
“Our game wasn’t pretty, but we got off to a great start,” Hicks added. “It can be hard to play with a big lead, and things got sloppy. Jaret got his game going, which is what we need heading into the tournament run. He can make a big difference.”
The Cave Spring lead increased to 25 in the fourth before the bench was cleared to give playing time to the reserves. Long gone were starters Terrell Simmons, Connor Baker and Bryant, who Hicks admitted he wanted to rest for the regional semifinal set for Wednesday night against Abingdon at Richlands Middle School.
“Our defense has greatly improved and that’s a huge key down the stretch,” Hicks said. “Now, we face another elimination game to earn a trip to the state quarterfinals.”
In addition to Lipps game-high 20, starters Baker, Bryant and Simmons added 11, 9 and 7, respectively. Reserve Jared Adams knocked down 9 for the Knights, while Trey Mills chipped in 8 off the bench.
by Bill Turner