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Cave Spring Slams The Door With 71-31 Romp Over Abingdon

There’s a popular sports quip on the possibility of a comeback that goes, “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”
Thursday night in the Cave Spring gym, the Knights’ boys’ basketball team never let the fat lady get on stage. Heck, she barely got past the theater door.
Knight senior Owyn Dawyot (#5) scores on an acrobatic move in the third quarter that pushed the Cave Spring lead to 40 points. (Rhonda Ihlenburg photos).

Dominating on defense and running roughshod against Abingdon’s zone defense at the other end, Cave Spring rolled to the 71-31 Region 3D semifinal win to advance to the Region 3D final Saturday night against Northside in the Knights’ gym. Tip-off is set for 6PM. Cave Spring improved to 25-1 on the season and regardless of Saturday’s outcome, punched its ticket to the state quarterfinal round.

Cave Spring, which trailed after three quarters Tuesday night against William Byrd before outscoring the Terriers 24-0 in the fourth, picked up right where they left off.
Feeding off a madhouse of mayhem from the Knights’ student section that clearly had the Falcons rattled by the opening tip, Cave Spring’s defense put on a textbook performance.
A smothering trap defense and rushed shots by the Falcons propelled the Knights to a 18-2 lead after the first quarter. Cave Spring 6th man, 6ft-4 sophomore Kam Tinsley, came off the bench and keyed a 12-2 run to start the second quarter that put the Knights up 30-4. By the halftime break Cave Spring led 44-10 and the student section was just getting warmed up.
Knight 6ft-7 big-man Dylan Saunders (#24) reels in an offensive rebound over a trio of Abingdon defenders Thursday night in the Cave Spring gym.

“We were playing tough defense and we knew if we got the ball to the middle, we could shred their zone defense,” Tinsley, who finished with a game-high 15 points including three hits from long-range, noted after the win. “We had to play together; Abingdon has a very good team.”

While Tinsley was leading the scoring parade, the rest of the Knights’ lineup were similarly providing starring roles. Junior 6ft-7 big-man Dylan Saunders threw down 14 points, junior Stark Jones canned 13, with seniors Bryce Cooper and Owyn Dawyot keying the defense while scoring 11 and 10 points, respectfully.
“The kids were locked in,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse pointed out. “So proud of them! We knew what we wanted to do defensively and our guys executed it well. Five in double figures was huge. Great ball movement and very unselfish.”
“We were focused on playing good defense and we shot the ball well,” Cooper said. “Just play the way we can and attack the gaps. Kam was shooting the crap out of the ball tonight.”
Cave Spring sophomore Kam Tinsley (#20) scores with a floater over Falcon defender Alex Odle on his way to a game-high 15 points.

“I felt comfortable tonight and we were running the lanes,” Jones, who keyed the first quarter onslaught, pointed out.

Cave Spring led 58-20 after three quarters before the final margin settled at 40 as the bench players took center stage.
“We are in the regional finals Saturday night and that’s huge,” Gruse added.  “But we still need to win to host a state quarterfinal game.”
As for the deafening clamor behind the Cave Spring bench, Gruse wasn’t complaining.
“Our student section is the best in the state!; they are the best!”
Abingdon, which played 12 players in the final game of their season, was led by River Carter and Dayton Osborne, each scoring 7 points. Senior Konnor Kilgore, who had a pair of hits from behind-the-arc, followed with 6 points for the Falcons.
– Bill Turner

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