The main early catalyst for Cave Spring was senior Owyn Dawyot, a summer transfer from Salem who has jumped into a starting role for the Knights. Dawyot was on fire in the opening half, showing he has the talent to drive to the basket, pull up for a short jumper or fire from long range if the defense backs off. Dawyot finished with a game-high 20 points despite getting into foul trouble in the second half. Stark Jones followed Dawyot with 14 points despite limited time.
For the Cave Spring and William Byrd basketball teams, their fans and student bodies, Tuesday night was finally a return to normal.
An abbreviated season in 2020 with no fans in the gym was replaced by a packed house and two raucous student sections ready for this rivalry season opener in the Terrier gym.
Cave Spring used a strong run in the second quarter, and it would prove to be the key as the Knights outlasted Byrd 65-51.
“Our student section and community really came out to support us,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse noted. “So thankful for them. Great to be in a packed house again.”
The game was nip and tuck in the opening quarter as Cave Spring looked to go inside with its height and motion offense, while Byrd was firing from behind-the-arc to keep pace.
Things were tied at 10 in the final two minutes of the opening frame when Cave Spring closed with six straight points to lead 16-10. The Knights kept the pedal to the metal throughout the second quarter, outscoring Byrd 16-2 to push their advantage to 32-12 heading to the halftime break.
“Owyn did a great job for us,” Gruse pointed out. “He seemed to be comfortable and showed he is another weapon on the court for us. Stark had early foul trouble and still had a great game in limited minutes. Says a lot about who Stark is and what his game is all about.”
Byrd kept clawing and cut their deficit to 42-29 after three quarters, but Cave Spring never let the Terriers get within single digits the rest of the way, outscoring Byrd 23-22 in the final quarter.
“I think we got complacent in the third and it’s something we need to fix,” Gruse added. “Still, it was a great win in a rivalry game in a packed house on the road.”
Byrd hit 11 3-pointers on the night, scoring 65% of its points from behind-the-arc. No question the play of Cave Spring’s two big-men, Dylan Saunders and Bryce Cooper, contributed to Byrd shooting from long range.
In addition to Dawyot and Jones, Cave Spring got 11 points from junior Graham Lilley and 10 from Saunders.
Byrd was led by Trevor Ruble’s 16 points, while freshman Isaiah Board netted 8 and junior Jaiden Childress chipped in 6 points for the Terriers.