Expectations were high for a close game in the second meeting of the season between the Top-2 Class-3 basketball teams in the state, Northside and Cave Spring.
Thursday night in the packed Cave Spring gym – expectations met.
Going back and forth, one team’s run answered by the other, the first 110 points scored were a dead heat after 28 minutes of play. For the Vikings, the last 4 minutes proved to be the charm.
Tied at 55 midway through the fourth quarter, Northside used some timely shooting and took advantage of Cave Spring turnovers to score the next nine points to go up 64-55. When Knight guard Graham Lilley finally stopped the bleeding with a layup with 1:01 left, the Vikings still led by 7 and the outcome virtually secured in favor of Northside. Cave Spring 6ft-8 Fairleigh- Dickenson D1 commit Dylan Saunders’ hit from behind-the-arc cut the Northside advantage to 67-62 with 22.7 seconds left, but Cave Spring would get no closer as Northside made free throws the rest of the way to maintain their cushion.
The first half saw Cave Spring take the early advantage. At one point the Knight defense was creating major trouble for the Viking offense. Northside hit only 3 shots from the field, although all three were from long-range by sophomore Cy Hardy, who finished with a game-high 26 points for the Vikings. Cave Spring led 13-9 after the first 8 minutes.
Both teams had runs in the second quarter, but a late score by the Knights sent the teams to the halftime break with Cave Spring up 33-29.
Northside wasted no time flipping the score to start the third quarter, using quick scores and solid defensive stops to go from 4-down to 6-up before Cave Spring righted the ship for a late run. The Vikings led 50-46 heading to the final 8 minutes after outscoring the Knights 21-13 in the third.
Cave Spring opened the final quarter with a 9-5 surge to knot things at 55, setting the stage for Northside’s final heroics to pull out the win.
Following Hardy, senior Lawrence Cole scored 20 points for the Vikings, with junior Nick Crawford adding 9.
On the Cave Spring side, Saunders had a team-high 25 points, with senior Stark Jones canning 18 and junior Kam Tinsley, back from a foot injury, scoring 9.
– Bill Turner