Hidden Valley scored the games first points against Cave Spring Thursday night in the second rivalry matchup between the two Southwest County teams this season. The three-point bomb from behind-the-arc staked the Titans to a quick 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the the Titans, only 6 more points found their way into the scorebook during the first half against a tough Knight defensive presence. Cave Spring started finding their stride to go up 31- 9 heading into the halftime break before grinding out the convincing 61-23 River Ridge win.
Cave Spring basically put the game away in the third frame, outscoring the Titans 24-10 to push their advantage to 55-19 entering the last 8 minutes, and giving way to a continuous running clock due to the inflated scoring differential.
Both coaches went to their benches in the final frame, one that saw only 10 combined points scored as the focus was on the substitutes getting playing time and valuable experience. One highlight for the Knights late in the game came when Knight junior reserve Akan Ndem took a pass and muscled to the basket for his first two-pointer of the year, bringing down the house from the raucous Cave Spring student section.
Quite a moment for the hard-working grinder.
“Akan is such a great young man,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse noted. “He works so hard. Our student section was chanting his name when he scored. He’s definitely a fan favorite.”
The game was far removed from the tight matchup between these same teams a month ago in the Lea’s Winter Classic at the Berglund Center where Cave Spring outlasted Hidden Valley by the score off 52-46 in a game that was up for grabs heading into the final minutes.
“It’s a rivalry game and our players take this game very seriously,” Gruse pointed out. “They gave us a good shot in the Lea’s Classic. Tonight, out defensive effort was tremendous.”
Although Thursday’s game had its share of rough edges, Cave Spring found plenty of consistent scoring to seal the deal.
Junior Reed Pendleton led the way for the Knights with a game-high 12 points, while Matt Cagle followed with 8 and Charlie Urgo, Adnan Jasarevic and Parker Huffman each poured in 7 points. Eleven of Cave Spring’s 13 players found the scorebook.
“Great to see all the guys step up,” Gruse added. “It was a total team effort.”
On the Titan side, Drew Stegall led Hidden Valley with 7 points, while 7 other Titans scored either 2 or 3 points apiece.
The River Ridge tournament plays out Saturday night on this same Hidden Valley court where the top four teams vie for the championship. Pulaski County takes on Patrick Henry at 5PM, with Cave Spring and Salem following at 7. The winners meet at 6PM on Tuesday, also at Hidden Valley.