By Chris Siers
BELL BUCKLE — Throughout much of the first month of the 2023-2024 season, there have been questions about Cascade’s ability to score the basketball and just if this roster was able to find its footing on the offensive end of the court.
The Champs (2-6) put those questions to bed by doubling up Fayetteville (3-2) for a massive 68-34 win over the Tigers on Friday night.
“The biggest thing is it shows all those guys in the locker room and in the program now that we can do it. I think there’s been some questions—can this group do it?—and tonight, they did it. The energy was phenomenal. It was a complete team effort. We competed the entire game,” Champion coach Chris Lawson said.
Cascade began the game, running a zone defense that packed the paint, making it difficult for the Tiger offense to get any early traction, particularly when the perimeter shots weren’t falling.
With a stout defense in the paint controlling the Tigers, Cascade limited second-chance looks by dominating the glass with Zach Crosslin and Isaac McElroy attacking the glass.
By limiting the second-chance shots for Fayetteville, Cascade was able to get into the half-court and find the open man to build a 17-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Henry Stone, Saebyn Burris and Crosslin all knocked down shots from the floor, but it was McElroy who caught fire early.
He was able to knock down 3-of-3 free throw attempts in the quarter and drilled a trey from the top of the key.
He continued to dominate into the second quarter and added 12 more points in the second quarter, including two more 3-pointers.
Caden Hammonds and Stone also hit 3-pointers in the second period as well.
“I thought our guys moved the basketball and shared the basketball really well. We seemed to find the open shooter and knock down shots when found the open shooter. One thing we talked about was trying to create extra possessions We had guys go and knock the ball loose on an offensive rebound and get us an extra one and we ended up scoring on those. I was really happy with the effort,” Lawson said.
By halftime, Cascade led 37-16.
While the offense slowed a touch in the third quarter and Fayetteville was able to match Cascade’s 13 points, the Champs slammed the door shut on the Tigers with an 18-point fourth quarter, spread among six players.
While offense has been a struggle at times this season so far for Cascade, McElroy has been the steady go-to scorer.
But for Lawson and the Champs, finding consistency behind McElroy has been the task.
While nobody else reached double figures on Friday night, a total of 10 Champions scored in the win over Fayetteville.
“That’s something we’re constantly trying to figure out. But we did have some other guys step up and make shots and some guys make plays, even if they didn’t score,” Lawson said.
Sam Willoughby led the Tigers with 16 points.
As a team, Cascade connected on seven 3-pointers in the win.
Cascade hits the road on Tuesday night and travels to Huntland for another non-district game. The Champs close the week at home against Moore County on Friday.
Fayetteville 8 8 13 5 — 34
Cascade 17 20 13 18 — 68
Fayetteville: Samuel Willoughby 16, Kentius Henderson 9, Latrel Brown 3, Ja’Kius Kelso 3, Eli Groce 3.
Cascade: Isaac McElroy 30, Caden Hammonds 8, Henry Stone 5, Wickey Parker 4, Saebyn Burris 4, Tucker McGee 4, Tristan Billings 3, Zach Crosslin 3, Cash Van Buskirk 3, Logan Pulley 2, Tyler Rodgers 2.
3-Point goals: Fayetteville (3): Brown, Kelso, Groce.
Halftime score: Cascade 37, Fayetteville 16.