Heading into Friday night’s rivalry matchup between the Northside Vikings and Cave Spring Knights, it had been 364 days since defending Class-3 State Champs Cave Spring had been on the losing end of a basketball game.
Friday night in the packed Viking gym, that streak ended with a thud.
Taking advantage of lackluster play by the Knights combined with the lightning-fast execution by its five starters that rattled Cave Spring on both ends, Northside pulled away down the stretch for the 57-38 non-district win.
It was the first time Cave Spring had been held to such a low point total since the Knights lost in similar fashion to the Covington Cougars, 53-32, in the January, 2018 Roy Stanley Memorial at Roanoke College.
Since losing to Northside on December 10, 2021 on a last-second buzzer-beater in the Cave Spring gym, the Knights had won 27 straight games, a district and regional crown, plus the three-game state championship run that included a stunning last-second win over the Vikings in the state semifinals and a one-point win over Petersburg in the state final in Richmond that culminated a 29-1 season.
Friday night was a performance the Knights would certainly like to forget.
Although Northside wasn’t on fire out of the gate as well, the Vikings slowly clawed their way to an 8-0 lead. Both teams had early challenges finding the basket and were plagued by turnovers. It was well past the midpoint mark of the first quarter before the Knights scored their first points. Northside led 11-5 after the opening frame.
The second quarter was much the same and the teams went to the halftime break with the Vikings up 21-13. Although Cave Spring was still trying to find its shooting groove, Northside wasn’t capitalizing on the opportunity to create a larger cushion. At one point, with a two-shoot free throw at hand and a step-in violation by the Knights in the mix, the Viking shooter missed all three shots. Cave Spring had the deficit down to eight points, 32-24, heading to the final quarter.
Considering the huge 6th-man Cave Spring student section that had traveled en masse to Northside, few in attendance were ruling out a dramatic Knight rally. But, the Vikings suddenly made their best run of the night and scored the first nine points of the final frame to go up by 17, and all hopes of a Cave Spring comeback were dashed.
Northside was led by sophomore Cy Hardy’s game-high 22 points. Fellow-soph Mykell Harvey added 14, with senior Ja’Chan Anthony knocking down 11.
Cave Spring senior Stark Jones had a team-high 20 points for the Knights, accounting for over one-half of the Cave Spring total.
Northside will look for its fourth straight win to start the season when it entertains the Heritage Pioneers on Wednesday night, while Cave Spring looks to regroup next Thursday night when the Blacksburg Bruins make a visit to The Castle for the River Ridge District showdown.
For those liking to plan ahead, The Knights-Vikings regular season rematch is set for Thursday, January 19 at The Castle.