Last week, Cave Spring junior guard Adnan Jasarevic went to a rodeo.
Saturday night in the Hidden Valley gym, few in the packed Titan corral would disagree he had his own lassos right on target.
Riding Jasarevic’s shooting from behind-the-arc that included 5 timely connections, and using a full-court pressure defense that disrupted the usually patient Hidden Valley offense, Cave Spring punched its ticket to the State Class 3 tournament with the 66-44 win in the 3D Regional semifinal. Cave Spring will face 24-1 Northside Monday night in the same Titan gym for the Regional final that will determine where both teams will open state play.
The winner stays at home to face Heritage, while the loser of Monday’s final heads to Spotswood for its opener against the Trailblazers.
Monday night’s final will follow the 3D girls final between Lord Botetourt and Magna Vista scheduled to start at 6PM.
For Cave Spring (21-5), things were ripe for a trap game that would have ended the Knights’ season. Trying to defeat a dangerous rivalry team for the third time in one season after wins by 4 and 12 points in the first pair, playing on the Titans’ home court and facing a team that was focused on not letting this be the last game for their head coach, Kevin Burcham, who has moved to the school system’s central office as supervisor of health, physical education and driver’s ed. Roanoke County policy prevents central office personnel from being the head coach at a particular school.
“We had a lot of things going against us, but our prep was the same,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse noted afterward.
The game started with Hidden Valley following the trap game script as the Titans rolled out to a quick 7-2 lead. But, Gruse and his staff were quick to make some adjustments, including the full-court press that changed things in a hurry.
The Knights closed the opening quarter with a 13-3 surge to go up 15-10, and although Hidden Valley was still within three points in the final minutes of the half, the Knights again went on another late run to head to the halftime break up 29-20.
“I thought our defensive pressure was really good,” Gruse added “It disrupted their timing.”
Cave Spring kept the pressure on, and their lead grew well into double digits before senior captain Crawford Enyart finessed his way through the lane for a basket to put the Knights up 45-27 to start the final quarter.
Then, the bottom fell out for the Titans.
Enyart connected on a hit from behind-the-arc, complimenting his game-high 20 points, before Hidden Valley was hit with a technical foul. Jasarevic swished both free throws from the “T”, then had the steer wobbling with his fifth straight 3-pointer of the night and 17 total points.
“Adnan stroked it tonight,” Gruse pointed out. “He played so well and we have so much confidence in him. I tell him all the time to let it fly!”
Suddenly, the 18-point lead had ballooned to 26 and the only mystery left was whether the Cave Spring faithful would storm the court.
In addition to Enyart and Jasarevic, Cave Spring had plenty of scoring punch with junior Parker Huffman canning 12 and junior Jalen Buster hitting for 10 points.
Hidden Valley was led by Grayson Carroll’s 12 points, while senior forward Joe Lichtenstein added 11. Sharpshooter Andrew Duncan cashed in for 9 points, including the Titans’ only trey in the game, while center Kelly Mitchell tacked on 7 points.