You can be in the right place at the right time. You can also be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tuesday night in the Cave Spring gym, the Salem Spartans found themselves in the latter.
Looking for a bounce back win after last week’s loss to Patrick Henry, Cave Spring dominated in all aspects of the game on its way to the 65-36 River Ridge District victory.
The Knights were strong on the defensive side and were focused on getting the boards on both ends. Those two successes fuel the motor of the Cave Spring offense and the combination finished off the Spartans by the midpoint of the third quarter.
Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse was straight to the point after the win. “The focus this week has been defense and rebounding. We have to be good there if we want to succeed. Good to be back in the win column.”
Those keys also led to an onslaught by the fast-paced Cave Spring offense with four starters scoring in double figures.
None better than a game-high showing by senior Stark Jones who poured in 17 points.
“Stark got rolling early tonight,”Gruse pointed out. “He scored at all three levels. Good bounce back for him.”
Adding to Jones’ production were senior big-man and Fairleigh-Dickinson D-1 commit Dylan Saunders’ 12 points, plus junior Kam Tinsley and senior guard Bays Bryant pouring in 11 and 10 points, respectfully.
The Knights came out firing and after hitting a trey to start the scoring, led 15-5 at the end of the first quarter. Cave Spring kept the pressure on and pushed its advantage to 33-16 at the halftime break as Gruse went to his bench in the second quarter.
When the starters returned to open the third, the lead continued to mushroom and the Knights led 51-27 after three.
With the bench getting plenty of action, the Cave Spring lead ran into the 30s to start the fourth quarter, bringing the disparity rule into play and a continuously running clock. Both team’s benches entertained the sizable crowd down the stretch before the final 29-point margin.
“We had good support from our bench tonight,” Gruse noted. “Cam Parker, Coeburn Enyart, Charlie Parker and Shawn Washington all played well off the bench.”
Salem was led with a team-high 13 points from junior Grant Clemens, with sophomore forward Marvin Fields following with 8 points for the Spartans.
Cave Spring improved to 15-4 and has locked up second place heading into the River Ridge District Tournament which begins with the semifinals on February 10. The Knights finish the regular season with its traditional “Senior Night” against Pulaski County in The Castle on Thursday, followed by an appearance in the Adam Ward Classic Saturday at 5PM against Liberty Christian Academy and the regular season finale at Hidden Valley next Tuesday night.
The Cave Spring 6th-man student section was in raucous form on Tuesday as Hall of Fame broadcaster and student section celebrity favorite Dave Ross led the candy bar proceedings on Cowboys and Aliens theme night. Results were still inconclusive at press time on which group Ross resembled.