Boys Basketball playoff run ends against Highland Springs


Thomas Jackson

Sophomore Brandon Hill drives into the lane as he breaks through the Highland Springs defense.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the boys’ basketball took on the defending State Champion Highland Springs Springers at Highland Springs High School in the Region 5C Quarterfinals. Even with one of their best shooting performances of the season, coming in at just under 50%, turnovers and rebounding troubles plagued the Cavaliers as they lost 75-61.

The Cavs came into the quarterfinal game off the back of an upset win against the Douglas Freeman Mavericks on Friday. Looking to pull off another upset, the Cavaliers won the tip and quickly took a three point lead. They were able to hold that lead for the first four minutes when the Springers took an 11-9 lead. Highland Springs then went on a 13-0 run, capitalizing on early Cavalier turnovers and second-chance opportunities, en route to taking a 28-13 lead into the second quarter.

Missing senior Bryce Matthews for a second consecutive game proved to be monumental in the Cavs’ rebounding trouble. Without Matthews, the Cavaliers were left with just one big man on the court at any given time. Sophomore Ian Watts acted as the Cavs’ only big man, pulling down nine rebounds and winning the Cavalier Chronicle Player of the Game award. However, the Springers proved to be too much on the offensive boards, as they dominated the rebounding game. 

Senior Grafton Allen looks to pass the ball around the perimeter as a Highland Spring close out denies a potential open three point attempt.

Taking a 15-point lead into the second quarter, Highland Springs kept their foot on the gas, as they led by 17 at the half. However, notable in the quarter was sophomore Brandon Hill; he showed no fear in driving the ball though the paint amongst the Highland Springs defense. After a few Cavalier possessions with great ball movement, senior Grafton Allen and junior Mikea Lewis knocked down back-to-back three pointers in stabilizing the deficit at 15. 

The first half of the matchup was played with much more pace than the Cavs were likely used to. However, the second half was played with a slower pace, something that the Cavaliers’ were more accustomed to, as they were able to work back into the game. After some effective ball movement led to a Highland Springs score early, the Cavs were able to get on the board courtesy of an and-one layup by Watts, who scored the first six points of the half. 

In total, Watts scored 10 points in the matchup on 63%, while assisting on three made shots, stealing three balls and blocking two Springers.

Hill also got in on the action in the third, making a couple of layups including an and-one with about a minute left. Lewis later hit him with an assist on a 15-footer. However, this was only enough to gain eight points on Highland Springs, who took a 12 point lead into the fourth quarter. 

Seen more in the fourth than in any other quarter was the Cavaliers’ rebounding trouble. One instance, early in the quarter, the Cavs allowed five shot attempts on one possession due to the Springers continuous offensive rebounding. Thanks to some good shooting by the Cavs and two three point makes by sophomore Jayden Moss, the lead was cut to just 12, forcing a Highland Springs timeout with just over one minute left in the game. However, 12 points was the closest that the Cavaliers got, as Highland Springs extended the lead to 14 before taking the victory.

With the loss on Tuesday, the season for the Green and Gold comes to an end. While the 2022-2023 campaign may not have gone exactly as Coach Scott Mccandlish may have wanted, the Cavs have a lot to look forward to. With only two seniors on the squad this year, 10 players will likely return for next season, and a few more will join from a potential-filled junior varsity team. The Green and Gold will look to improve their fate and work to turn around the program for years to come.