Friday night’s Southwest County rivalry matchup had a much different look than the typical Cave Spring-Hidden Valley shootout. And, it may have been well understood.
With both teams finishing a brutal week of games that had Hidden Valley playing in their third game in seven days, and Cave Spring competing for the fourth time in that same period, including three games in the last four nights, it came down to which team could grind it out to the finish line.
In the end, Cave Spring broke open a one-point game in the final quarter to pull away for the 50-40 win. A far different road to victory than the Knights enjoyed 11 days earlier when they knocked off the Titans by 25 points in the Hidden Valley gym.
“It was a gritty game for sure,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse noted of the regular season finale for both teams. “I could see our guys were a bit fatigued. They gave us a great shot. That’s what the rivalry game should be.”
Cave Spring came out of the gate strong, jumping to a quick 10-2 lead before the Titans finished the opening frame with a 14-2 run to lead by 4 after one quarter.
The Knights reeled off another run of their own, outscoring the Titans 16-2 to open the second quarter before Hidden Valley scored the final 4 points to cut the Cave Spring advantage to 28-22 heading to the halftime break.
Cave Spring kept the Titans at arm length, leading 36-31 after three quarters, but when Hidden Valley scored the opening 4 points of the final quarter, the Titans only trailed by one, 36-35, and game was on.
The Knights answered the call with a clutch 8-0 run capped off by sophomore Stark Jones’ hit from behind-the-arc and a slick baseline bank shot from junior Skylor Griffiths to go up 44-35 with 3:34 left.
“The win was a total team effort, again,” Gruse added of different players continuing to step up throughout the tough stretch of games for the Knights. “That’s what we need every night from our team.”
Hidden Valley shot itself in the foot for any late heroics with turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch that thwarted any comeback hopes. Cave Spring pushed its lead to the final 10-point margin in the last minute.
Dylan Saunders scored 14 points and Jones added 13 in the sophomore surge for Cave Spring, while senior Charlie Urgo netted 10 and junior Bryce Cooper chipped in 6 points for the Knights.
Senior Jacob Nichols scored a team-high 14 points for Hidden Valley, with senior Manu Singh adding 8 along with juniors Hunter Whitaker and Royston Smiley knocking down 7 and 6 points, respectfully.
Both teams head to Region 3D tournament play this week. Hidden Valley (No.8 seed) gets a quick turnaround when it faces No.9 seed Bassett Monday night at 6PM in the Hidden Valley gym. The winner hits the road on Tuesday to face No.1 seed Abingdon on the Falcons’ home court.
Cave Spring (4 seed) opens its Region 3D play on Tuesday night when the 5 seed Christiansburg Blue Demons invade the new Knights’ gym for a 7PM tipoff. That winner takes on the Abingdon-Hidden Valley-Bassett winner on Thursday at a location to be determined.