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Sat, 02/29/2020 - 07:00
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For the first time since 1997, Wildcats advance to Area Tournament

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NO. 2 CASHION - 58

Hobart - 29

For the first time in 23 years, the Cashion Wildcats will be playing in the Area Tournament next weekend. The No. 2 Wildcats put on a defensive clinic against Hobart Thursday night in the Class 2A Area 4 Sub-Regional, routing the Bearcats 58-29 to guarantee their spot in the area tournament next weekend, no matter what happens tonight in the Regional Championship game against No. 19 Mangum.

“After games, I try not to talk about things like this, but this is something I told them that hasn’t been done in a long time,” Cashion Head Coach John Hardaway said. “The Cashion boys haven’t been to the Area Tournament since 1997. That’s a long time. I’m happy for this team. I told them we still have a lot of work to do, but by winning tonight we kind of cleared that hurdle of getting to the Area Tournament. We’ve had a lot of good teams since our last trip, but we just weren’t able to get there.”

The Wildcats were able to advance to the Regional Championship game tonight thanks to their stellar defensive effort Thursday night, holding the Bearcats to a season-low 29 points.

Hobart opened the game strong, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. It would be the only quarter the Bearcats would score double digits. Cashion would hold Hobart to 19 points over the next 24 minutes. The Bearcats would only score four points in the fourth quarter.

“I didn’t know the deficit would be like it was, but I was proud of our effort defensively tonight,” Hardaway said. “It was exceptional throughout the game. I know they started the game with 10 points, but we held them to 19 for the rest of the game. I felt like we defended them really well in the second, third, and fourth quarters. Credit to our guys, they just keep their foot on the gas pedal all the time.”

While the Wildcats showcased their ability to play defense, Jacob Woody showcased his ability to score the basketball.

Woody is the straw that stirs the drink for the Wildcats. Sure, they have plenty of offensive firepower to beat virtually anybody on any given night. But when Woody has it going offensively, the Wildcats are almost unbeatable. He finished with a game-high 21 points in his final game ever inside Cashion’s gym. From the opening tip, Woody was flawless. His ability to shoot outside shots to draw defenders on him and then put the ball on the floor to blow past defenders puts in him a rare category of offensive firepower. Once Woody was able to get going offensively, it opened up the floor for the rest of his teammates. Vance Raney was the only other Cashion player in double figures, but the Wildcats had 10 different players etch their names in the scorebook. That’s what makes Cashion the No. 2 team in the state. They have the depth and weapons to do a multitude of different things to win ball games. And they might need them all tonight when they take on No. 19 Mangum (23-3).

“Mangum plays really fast and they love to get up and pressure you full court,” Hardaway said. “It will be a great game. Anytime you’re playing in a regional championship game, it’s supposed to be a big challenge. They are a really good team and have some really nice pieces. Nobody has challenged us full court in a game this year. We’ve been pressed in spots but no one has full-court pressed us for a whole game and that’s what they like to do. It should be a fun game to watch.”

A win over Mangum would be huge in the Wildcats quest to make it to the Big House. It would put them on the winner’s side of the bracket in the Area Tournament next weekend. That would mean only one win would separate them and the state tournament.

“It’s a huge game,” Hardaway said. “If we beat Mangum, that means we get two chances to win one game next week and that’s a really big advantage.”