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Cave Spring Boys Face Challenge to Repeat as Champions

Cave Spring head coach Billy Hicks (center) celebrates last year’s state title with assistant coach Bob Hicks (left).

The Cave Spring boys basketball team may find the road to Richmond bumpy this season, as the two-time defending state AA champions return no starters off of last year’s 25-4 team.

The Knights, who finished 9-1 in a tough River Ridge District, will field a roster comprising  of Grant Backlund (Jr, 5-8, G), Reece Kemp (Sr, 6-1, F), Ryan Gladfelter (Jr, 5-11, G), Michael Cole (Sr, 6-2, F), Tyler Kemp (Sr, 6-4, F), Aaron Cupp (Jr, 5-10, G), Storm Furrow (Sr, 5-10, G), Alex Couture (Jr, 5-10, G), Michael Phlegar (Jr, 6-0, G), Ben Walker (Jr, 6-3, F), Zach Lawson (Jr, 6-4, F), Amin Abuhawwas (Jr, 6-2, G), Harrison Richards (Jr, 6-3, F) and Jordan Bryant (So, 6-1, F).

Head Coach Billy Hicks sees Cupp, Gladfelter, Abuhawwas, Cole and Kemp as probable starters. Asked who might make an impact this season, Hicks said, “Michael Cole [a Virginia Tech recruit for football] will be our leader and the most athletic player in our district. Amin Abuhawwas has the chance to be a real impact player. Aaron Cupp and Ryan Gladfelter give us a solid backcourt. Tyler Kemp and Ben Walker will be the top post players.”

It may take a while before this group gels: “we are very inexperienced and may struggle early to find our identity  [as we] bring football players into the mix,” said the veteran coach, who has claimed three state titles overall, including one with J.J. Redick. “Our season will depend on how quickly this team can gain experience and apply it.”

Hicks noted depth, balance and overall speed as positives, while the lack of experience and no dominant rebounder or post scorer are concerns.  Big man Josh Henderson took his 7’ frame to Vanderbilt, where he will redshirt this season.

Asked about the Knights top games this season, the coach noted all of the district games.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s team grow as the season progresses,” added Hicks. “The district should be fairly balanced.” Cave Spring opened its season on Wednesday night vs. William Byrd.(After press time.)

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