Two weeks ago, the Cashion Wildcats were on fire. They were 11-2 and had just put a ribbon on a 26-point blowout win over then-undefeated #2 Hennessey in the Three Rivers Conference Tournament Championship.
Fast forward to Saturday night, with 49 seconds left in the Cashion County Line Consolation Championship, the Wildcats were on the verge of dropping four out of their last five games since the big win over Hennessey. Alva High School led Cashion 59-55 but the Wildcats never panicked. Instead, they started to execute on both ends of the floor.
First Jonah Jenkins knocked down a big free throw to pull the Wildcats within one possession with 47 seconds remaining. The Wildcats then switched to their black diamond press, thanks to assistant coach Chad Tichenor. The Wildcats forced a jumpball on the throw in, giving them a key extra possession. Jacob Woody capitalized on it, draining two free throws to pull the Wildcats within one with 41 seconds left.
Cashion was forced to foul on the next possession, but Alva split the two free throws, opening the door for the Wildcats.
Alex Nabavi caught the ball at the elbow-extended, and took seven dribbles down the court before draining the running floater to tie the game up at 60 apiece, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the Wildcats would have to play without Woody, who fouled out with 3:39 to play. It would not matter, as Nabavi and company outscored Alva 8-3 in the final period, clinching the consolation championship, 68-63.
Woody finished with a game-high 21 points. Nabavi finished with 17.
“I told the team that Alva is a name brand school, and to beat them we would have to play really good,” Cashion Head Coach John Hardaway said. “They are so well coached and they do so many things well. For us to battle with them and climb back and get it into overtime and eventually win, I am so proud of them. We did a really good job of executing on both ends in overtime, that was a good win.”
Escaping this tournament with a 2-1 record is no small feat. The tournament was loaded with good teams that all could’ve been in the spot the Wildcats were. Coach Hardaway says he couldn’t be happier with their record in the tournament.
“I told them whoever got out of this tournament 2-1, earned it,” Hardaway said. “This tournament was brutal. For us to get out of here 2-1, I am really proud of our guys. You obviously want to win the championship, but only one team does that. To get out of here 2-1, I’m really happy with that.”
The come from behind win, could prove to be a pivotal one for Hardaway and the Wildcats. Cashion’s last five games of the season come against all ranked teams. They will host #15 Luther tonight for senior night. Then they’ll play #13 Chisholm, #8 Okarche, #16 Crossings Christian, and #1 Dale in the regular season finale. It’s a brutal stretch but its not a stretch that comes as a surprise. Hardaway has been telling the team it would be like this since Christmas break.
“We told them after Christmas break that every game going forward was going to be a battle for us,” Hardaway said. “We’ve played some really good teams so far and it doesn’t get any easier from here. We know we are going to have to play our very best from here on out if we want to be successful.
Cashion will host #15 Luther tonight for senior night. They will return home next Friday when they host #16 Crossings for Homecoming.