back to top

Cave Spring Wins Class-3 Basketball State Title With 76-75 Win Over Petersburg

It resembled a classic prize fight.
A pair of high school basketball heavyweights in the Class-3 ranks slugging it out for 32 minutes.
Petersburg and Cave Spring both delivering offensive runs, decisive stops on defense and rising from the mat.
In the end it was a series of haymakers from Cave Spring senior guard  Owyn Dawyot that pushed the Knights to the championship belt.
Knight junior Stark Jones (#14) scores on a floater over Crimson Wave defender Kaymeigh Lundy in Cave Spring’s state championship win at the VCU Siegel Center.

Starting the fourth quarter, the Crimson Wave of Petersburg trailed by nine, 64-55. Cave Spring had weathered every Petersburg run that left the Wave frustrated to that point. From the opening tip the Knights knew Petersburg’s offensive strategy of using their muscle to bully inside, and Cave Spring was prepared with the answer. Time after time the Knights, led by defensive guru Bryce Cooper, stood their ground and took charges. Petersburg quickly got into foul trouble.

But the Wave adjusted their offensive attack and with shots suddenly falling, they made a late comeback.
“Every time we stretched that lead a little bit, they hit a 3,” Cave Spring head coach Jacob Gruse said in the media interview room afterward. “We were trying to throw the knockout punch, and never could. Give credit to Petersburg.”
Petersburg senior guard Kaymeigh Lundy scored on a layup to start the final quarter and senior Tylik Lawrence hit from behind-the-arc to cut the Wave’s deficit to four. The momentum was going Petersburg’s way and the packed VCU Siegel Center crowd was cheering every play by both teams.
“We turned up the defense, locked down, got some stops , got back in transition and hit some 3-pointers,” Petersburg head coach Ryan Massenburg said of his team’s resounding comeback.
)Cave Spring’s 6ft-5 senior Bryce Cooper goes inside for a score as teammate Stark Jones (#14) and Petersburg defender Tylik Lawrence (#2) look on.

Cave Spring was still ahead 73-69 with just under three minutes left when Petersburg’s Bernard Fuller went inside for a slam, Wave 6ft-5 standout Chris Fields hit a pair of free throws and Fuller followed with a layup to finally get Petersburg over the hump by taking the lead, 75-73, with 1:47 to play.

In stepped Dawyot.
Dawyot’s stick back off junior Stark Jones’ miss tied the score at the 1:32 mark and Petersburg decided to play for the last shot against the rarely implemented Cave Spring zone defense.
“I’d rather chew off my left arm than play zone,” Gruse noted. “We played zone tonight for about 12 or 14 minutes which is more than we played all year. I think it caught them by surprise.”
The tactic had paid dividends and when the Wave started its final move to go inside to Lawrence in the paint, Dawyot created a fumbled-ball turnover, grabbed the ball and headed up court. Going full steam, he drew a foul in the paint with 6 seconds left.
Dawyot, a transfer from Salem High over the summer, came up short on the first free throw, but was all net on the second to put the Knights up 76-75.
“I missed the first one and I was thinking to myself ‘don’t be that guy that blows it for the whole team.’ I didn’t want to let my teammates down.”
Owyn Dawyot hits the winning free throw with 6 seconds left to send Cave Spring past Petersburg 76-75 for the VHSL Class-3 state championship.

Petersburg had one final chance for the game-winning shot and senior Clarence Claiborne raced the ball over mid-court and passed to Lawrence deep on the left side. Cooper stepped out to challenge the shot and the off-balance bomb went just right as the horn sounded and the backboard perimeter flashed red.

“I contested the shot,” Cooper said. “I didn’t want to foul so I got out of the way. When it hit the backboard, I knew the game was over.”
For three quarters, Cave Spring’s offense had Petersburg’s number, scoring on backdoor cuts and drawing fouls. The Knights led 20-19 after the first quarter and 41-34 heading to the halftime break. Gruse told his team in the huddle after the first quarter that they had broken the Wave’s plan of scoring in the paint to gather an early advantage. Cave Spring was gaining confidence they needed to push their game plan to the finish line.
Dawyot finished with a game-high 29 points for Cave Spring, with Jones adding 18 for the Knights. Junior Dylan Saunders canned 13 points, Graham Lilley netted 8, with Cooper and Kam Tinsley each getting 3, plus a key pair from senior Skylor Griffiths.
Fields paced the Crimson Wave with 25 points with Lawrence and Fuller following with 14 points apiece. Lundy netted 8, Jamari Garnett 7, with Claiborne and George Wilson adding 5 and 2 points, respectfully.
Cave Spring finished the season 29-1, the best record in program history, topping the 27-2 record by Gruse’s 2020 Knight state championship squad. The Knights previously won state titles in 2002, 2009 and 2010.
Petersburg ( 22-4) was looking for their first state title since the 1974 season when Moses Malone led the Crimson Wave to victory before making his move from the high school ranks straight to the NBA.
“What an unreal game! “Gruse noted of his Knights. “These guys are the most selfless individuals ever. They believe in the we-over-me concept. All they care about is winning (as a team).”
“Petersburg is unbelievable. They’re the most athletic team we’ve faced all year. They’re balanced, they’re physical, they’re aggressive.”
One point difference, but just enough to bring the championship trophy back to Southwest Roanoke County.
Bill Turner

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles