The first and second All-District River Ridge teams announced at Hidden Valley High School Tuesday night were dominated by players from Cave Spring and Patrick Henry High Schools.
Anyone who had just witnessed the championship game completed minutes earlier between the two teams would agree the picks were right on target.
Overcoming a four-point deficit with four minutes to play, Cave Spring used a pair of clutch 3-pointers to regain the lead before outlasting Patrick Henry down the stretch 68-64.
A packed Hidden Valley gym was juiced by students and fans of both schools who watched the teams duke it out for 32 minutes.
Cave Spring, which improved to 22-2 , was looking to avenge its only two losses of the season to this same Patriot squad. PH, which knocked off the Knights in last year’s River Ridge final, rolled into Southwest County having not lost since December and on a 15-game win streak.
It was a classic collision course.
Cave Spring, led by an explosive three-point threat by its guards, came out of the gate with authority by using the backdoor route to score points on cuts for layups. The Knights picked their opportunities with patience against the swarming Patriot defense, as PH guarded against the long-range damage Cave Spring often inflicts.
“We had to have a counter for PH’s pressure,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse noted afterward. “Our guys executed it well.”
“The fast start was huge,” Gruse added. “We had to be ready. PH is a great team and we had to jump on them first.”
The Knights led 17-12 after the first quarter and pushed its advantage to 28-16 midway through the second before the Patriots rallied to close to 37-31 at the break, capped off by a heave that caromed off the glass for a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Patriots kept coming in the third, eventually knotting up the score before trailing 46-44 heading to the final 8 minutes.
When Patriot senior Jalen Crump scored with a twisting reverse layup with just over four minutes left, Patrick Henry led 54-50 and the momentum was heading into the Patriot’s corner.
In stepped Knight sharpshooters Adnan Jasarevic and Reed Pendleton and the game changed on a dime in dramatic fashion. Jasarevic, who scored 12 on the night, got the ball rolling from long range with nothing but net. Pendleton, who finished with a game-high 23 points, followed moments later with a bomb that put Cave Spring up 56-54, and the Knights never looked back.
“Huge threes by those two,” Gruse pointed out. “I believe every time they shoot it, it’s going in. Our guys didn’t panic and those two hit big shots.”
Although Patriot senior Alex Faulkner drained one from long range, a pair of scores by Pendleton and a layup by Parker Huffman sandwiched around a Patriot score pushed the Cave Spring lead to 62-57, just enough cushion to get the Knights to the finish line.
Huffman, who has committed to Christopher Newport, poured in 15 points for the Knights, while the always gritty Lucas Duncan, who will walk on at Virginia Tech in football, added 10. Cave Spring was 21 of 26 from the free throw line.
Patrick Henry was led by Jalen Cook’s 17 points, while Crump netted 16, with Andre Palmer following with 13 and junior Jamonte Smith dropping in 12.
Both teams move on to regional play. Patrick Henry gets started on Friday in a 5D matchup against Mountain View in the Patriot gym. Cave Spring gets a first round bye in Region 3D before facing an opponent to be determined next Tuesday in the Hidden Valley gym.