That special late-season home game where a team’s seniors are observed for their contributions and dedication to the basketball program. A game that has its emotions and poses definite distractions with family members looking on, pregame ceremony and a salute from the underclassmen teammates.
Wednesday night in the Cave Spring gym, the five Knight seniors, Charlie Urgo, Cam Bishop, Walker Swanson, Jacob Tozier and Akan Ndem, made sure the party wasn’t crashed by a talented Glenvar Highlander team, as Cave Spring held on for the 74-59 win.
Following tradition for senior night games, Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse started all five of his seniors. Those starting five, three of which were not typical starters, came to play. They set the early pace that led to a 17-6 lead after the opening quarter and Gruse not needing a substitution in the opening six minutes.
“Senior night always makes a coach anxious with so many emotions involved with that game,” Gruse noted after the satisfying win. “I couldn’t have asked for or scripted a better start for our seniors.”
Leading the way for Cave Spring were two of its typical starters, Urgo and Bishop. Urgo had a career-high 27 points, including five hits from behind-the-arc and Bishop stepped up with 11 points, with three bombs from long range. Tozier chipped in 6 points and scrappy Swanson made his presence known on defense.
Then, there was Ndem. The ultimate team player that doesn’t get many minutes, but always contributes in his own way to the team’s success. Ndem got his opportunity to shine Wednesday night and took full advantage, hitting a textbook turnaround jumper, grabbing rebounds and drawing two charges in the paint.
“Akan drawing those two charges were huge,” Gruse pointed out. “I’m so proud of him. What a special night for Akan.”
The Knights also got 10 points from sophomore Dylan Saunders and eight each from sophomore Stark Jones and junior Bryce Cooper.
The Knights needed the quick start as Glenvar kept scrapping the rest of the way. An acrobatic performance by Highlander junior Steph Barber, who finished with 19 points, and 18 points by junior Christian Housh kept Glenvar in the game. Fellow-junior Tyler Johnson netted 7 for head coach Todd Mann’s Highlanders.
Cave Spring concludes its brutal stretch of three games in four nights Friday when the rivalry game with Hidden Valley plays out in the new Knights’s gym. Will the Knights continue to be focused?
“We better be focused,” Gruse noted. “Rivalry game. On TV. Legend Dave Ross doing the game. What else could you want?”
For local fans, Friday night’s game will be streamed live and replayed in its entirety Saturday afternoon on CW5 (Cox Channel 5) beginning at !:00 pm. with Dave Ross and color commentator Steve Meyers at the microphone.