Fast Start Sends Cave Spring Past Hidden Valley 64-39 In Rivalry Showdown

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Hidden Valley ballhandler Tegan Smith (#24) looks for an opening against Cave Spring defenders Cam Bishop (left) and Jacob Tozier.

Cave Spring used a decisive 1-2 punch from starters Charlie Urgo and Stark Jones for an early double-digit lead, and the Knights cruised to the 64-39 boys’ basketball win over Southwest County rival Hidden Valley Monday night in the Titan gym.

Urgo, a senior, finished with a game-high 18 points and Jones, a sophomore transfer during the summer from Roanoke Catholic, added 17, as the pair hit 7 of Cave Spring’s 8 bombs from behind-the-arc.

It was the first of two regular-season meetings between the pair in the abbreviated Roanoke County 5-team, 8-game schedule, shortened due to COVID-19 pauses.

Cave Spring sophomore Stark Jones (dark jersey) scores past Hidden Valley defender Hunter Whitaker (#15) Monday night in the Titan gym. (Rhonda Ihlenburg photos).

One thing clearly missing from the long-standing rivalry was the absence of most fans in what is typically a packed house for this River Ridge matchup. Monday night the only spectators were the parents permitted in the gym of the four Hidden Valley seniors, Jack Lichtenstein, Tyler McDaniel, Manu Singh and Jacob Nichols, honored in a pregame ceremony.

The absence of both student bodies and fans, typically loud from tip-off to final buzzer, gave the rivalry game a very unique atmosphere.

“So strange tonight,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse noted after the Knights’ victory. “Usually, the gym is packed. Strange feeling tonight.”

Cave Spring came out of the gate on fire as the Knights scored the first 7 points of the game on their way to a 21-8 lead after the opening quarter. Jones had 11 points in those first eight minutes to pace the early Cave Spring attack.

The Knights pushed their lead to 38-21 at the halftime break, and were up 53-32 after three quarters before both Gruse and Hidden Valley head coach Phil Miron substituted liberally down the stretch. The Titans got no closer than 15 points in the second half.

“We had to keep them away with a nice lead,” Gruse pointed out. “I thought we lost a little focus with the big lead.”

Urgo and Jones kept the pedal down for the Knights.

“Charlie Urgo was really good tonight,” Gruse added. “Stark Jones is developing nicely. We need multiple guys every night. This was a team effort.”

Singh led Hidden Valley with 11 points, with McDaniel and Sam Hart each canning 6. Junior Braxton Dunning chipped in 5 points for the Titans. Nichols and Royston Smiley netted 4 each, with junior Philip Smith knocking down a three-pointer to round out the Hidden Valley scoring. The Titans fell to 1-3 on the season.

Complimenting Urgo and Jones for the Knights were Bryce Cooper’s 7 points, along with six apiece from Cam Bishop, Graham Lilley and Dylan Saunders. Walker Swanson added 4 points for Cave Spring.

Up next for Cave Spring (3-1) will be a rematch with Northside Friday night in the first boy’s game played in the newly remodeled Cave Spring gym. The game is tentatively scheduled to be televised on CW5-TV with Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Ross, and replayed Saturday afternoon on Cox Cable channel 5. Check local listings for the broadcast time.

In the junior varsity preliminary Monday night, Joe Ihlenburg and Kam Tinsley each scored a game-high 12 points to lead Cave Spring past Hidden Valley 48-33. Joey Strong led the Titan JVs with 11 points.

Bill Turner