Final Score: #1 (4A) Cascade 58 #8 (5A) Central 47
It is important for a team like Cascade, who is at their best in an up-tempo and high possession game where athleticism is championed, to win games early on that are slow, physical, and ugly. Central had a well defined size advantage--not just height, but body thickness as well--over Cascade, and it showed up big time in spurts, but not for long enough periods of time for Central to build a sizable enough lead to run away and hide with. Cascade's forwards battled to a draw just enough for the guards, which as a unit may be unchallenged in total talent amongst their 4A peers, to win the game.
Cascade answered some questions tonight: Can they win with one of the big four--the Horne twins, Rogue Newton, and Landon Knox--out of the game due to injury? Can they hold their own in the paint despite being undersized? Can they win a game that is slower than they might like? Can they win a game where their greatest advantage, their speed and athleticism, isn't nearly as much of an advantage as it usually would be (Central's backcourt has their fair share of athletes as well)? Across the board, the answer turned out to be yes.
Central will be fine. It was clear in the first half that one team had already played a game and one had not; Central looked rusty, clunky, and as though they were trying to find their footing. Defensively this team should be a force to be reckoned with moving forward, considering not only the presence of 6-foot-5 post Chase Nelson anchoring the middle, but the plethora of athletic, stout defenders that the Panthers can float around the mid range and perimeter: Esteban Chaves (this kid is fast, by the way. 'One man fast break' kind of fast.), Andrew Eames, Michael Young, and Mason Craig--who had probably the best night trying to defend Landon Knox--just to name a few. Once Central settled in, they looked like a team that could tough their way into a lot of wins.
Leading Scorers: Landon Knox (Casc.) 23, Kai Bennett (Cent.) 16, Esteban Chavez (Cent.) 13, Anthony Best (Casc.) 12