Close battle between rivals in season finale

Close battle between rivals in season finale 150 150 SWVA High School Sports

Cave Spring HS, Roanoke, VA – Seven minutes or two and half miles separates Hidden Valley and Cave Spring High Schools. Less than that separated the two teams for much of the night in the second meeting of the season on Friday. The Knights ran away from the Titans back on January 25th, 64-39, but this game would be different. This time around the two teams would combine for only 90 points yet deliver thirty four fouls when you add the two together.  Shots were taken, but many were missed, as everything was contested. Both teams shot around forty five percent from the floor. Cave was able to make a few more field goals, one more three, and three more free throws. Coach Phil Miron of Hidden Valley thought his kids played hard, “We have struggled  this year taking care of the basketball and tonight that was probably are Achilles heel again, but the kids came out with that focus and played defense as hard as they could.”

Cave G 5 Charlie Urgo goes up and around Titan C 14 Mannu Singh

That sounds close and it was for most of the game, but yet as an onlooker you felt like Cave still had control the whole way. Hidden Valley got within a point at 6:52 in the fourth quarter, but the Knights didn’t panic. Cave responded with eight straight to create a margin that would prove too tough to overcome. Knight coach Jacob Gruse enjoys the rivalry. “We always look forward to this game.

Hidden Valley G 22 Jonah Harding

We beat them handily there and they came here and did a great job of controlling the pace. I think we shot maybe 10% tonight, maybe fatigue… playing three games in four days. May be their defense.”When the final horn sounded, Cave Spring had earned a hard fought win, 50-40.

G 1 Braxton Dunning scores from the foul line extended

First Half – It may have been foreshadowing when both teams started with a turnover. That carried over with no points by either team in the first minute of play, on several trips up and down the court. Neither team scored until the 6:58 mark when Cave Spring’s big man, C 24 Dylan Saunders, stroked a three from top circle.

Cave G 14 Stark Jones makes a move

Hidden Valley’s offense finally woke up. At 4:10 in the first, G/F 15 Hunter Whitaker’s bucket drew the Titans closer at 10-7. A minute and a half later, Hidden Valley C 14 Mannu Singh tied it up in the paint at 12-12 with a short shot with 2:24 left in the quarter.  The Titans added another basket, and then with under a minute, G 23 Jacob Nichols shook his man and got to the basket.

HV Guard 23 Jacob Nichols scores on a baseline jumper

When the Senior drew a defender to him, he dished it beautifully to C 14 Singh for a lay in and a 16-12 lead. It would stay that way as the quarter ended. Post game Coach Gruse laughed about how well these kids know each other,  “We are what…two miles apart from each other.

G 2 Cameron Bishop being defended by Titan G 4 Sam Purviance

It’s funny, I heard kids coming into the game, normally they say I’ve got 4, I’ve got 10… they say I’ve got Mannu. I’ve got Whitaker. They call each other by their first names. They just know each other so well. It’s really a good rivalry game. Stinks we couldn’t pack this place out tonight…great atmosphere. Their student section is fantastic. Our student section is fantastic. Both communities come out, a social event… just a fun environment.”
It didn’t take Cave Spring long to right their ship after a little encouragement from their head coach Jacob Gruse during the quarter break. One minute into the second, the Knights notched the game at 16 apiece. Hidden Valley had their looks at the basket but just couldn’t get them to go down. That was, in part, due to their own efforts, but Cave’s defense was also an actor in that story. The Knight’s had another potential problem that was developing though. C 24 Saunders picked up his second foul, defending the rim, and the Sophomore had to take a seat on the Cave sidelines. The Titans issue was more critical. They couldn’t get a bucket. G 23 Nichols finally got their first second quarter score with 4:51 left until half. Nichols, a Senior,  is Hidden Valley’s leader. Coach Miron has been impressed with his dedication, “(Nichols) has a goal to play after high school. He’s a gym rat. He ‘s got that drive.”

Titan Wing 15 Hunter Whitaker


The game progressed with neither team able to get much separation. Hidden Valley got to within six on a put back at the buzzer by F 25 Royston Smiley. The Junior, Smiley, really made his presence felt when he was in the game on the boards. Cave led at the half 28-22.

Second Half – Cave’s foul problems followed them into the second half when C 24 Saunders got called for his third fifteen seconds in. Saunders is an important cog in the Knight machine. Coach Gruse thinks he’s got a high ceiling, “He’s really developed his game and can score at all three levels – pick and pop, rip and drive, and play with his back to the basket. He’s a trip threat guy. Just being a Sophomore, I am super excited about him, just imagine when we can have a real offseason and we get into the weight room, put 15 pounds on him, and that’s a game changer. I become a better coach.

F Royston Smiley goes high on a short jumper in the lane

During this run in the game, both teams struggled to score. With 3:04 left in the quarter, each club had only scored one basket, and it wasn’t for lack of shooting. F 25 Smiley for HV made a short shot to draw the Titans back to within three at 32-29. Cave point guard 2 Cameron Bishop got into the mix with a jumper. Hidden Valley also had caught the ‘fouling’ bug and when G 23 Nichols picked up his third foul, all in the quarter, the Senior had to take a seat. G 5 Charlie Urgo finished out the third with two free throws. Cave led 36-31.
Hidden Valley refused to go away in the fourth. C 14 Singh was the recipient of a nice assist from F 33 Phillip Smith. That deuce coupled with a three pointer by G 1 Braxton Dunning got the Titans back to within one at 36-35. Cave responded. The Knights reeled off eight straight points to move out to 44-35 lead. Hidden Valley again suffered from a ‘lid on the basket’ in this stretch of the fourth. The Titans didn’t get their next score until there were only :45 left in the contest on a reverse layup by G 23 Nichols. Hidden Valley did get two steals in the last seconds, but Cave was able to salt away the win at the foul line.
Both teams move on to the postseason. Cave Spring most likely will draw a first round bye and will play Tuesday or Wednesday against a yet to be determined opponent. Hidden Valley will take on Bassett at home this Monday. In this crazy pandemic season, Bassett (and Magna Vista) is heading into the postseason without having played a single regular season game. I think it’s safe to say that’s never happened before. As you might expect, seeding the Henry County teams is a guess. So, I ‘guess’ we will find out what these teams have once they finally get to play. Stay tuned.

Cave Spring Saunders 14 pts (5-FGs,1-3 ptr, 1/2 FT) Jones 13 pts (4-FGs, 1-3 ptr, 2/4 FT) Urgo 10 pts (2-FG, 1-3ptr, 3/4 FT) Cooper 6 pts (3-FGs) Lilley 3 pts (3/6 FT) Bishop 2 pts (1-FG)  Griffiths 2 pts (1-FG) 

Hidden Valley  –  Nichols 14 pts (4FGs, 1-3ptr, 3/4 FT) Singh 8 pts (3-FGs, 2/5 FT) Whitaker 7 pts (3-FGs, 1/2 FT) Smiley 6 pts (3-FG, 0/1 FT) Smith 3 pts (1-3ptr, 0/1 FT) Dunning 2 pts (1-FG) 


HV 23 Jacob Nichols CS 24 Dylan Saunders
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