No. 2 Cashion - 44
No. 12 Hennessey - 42
Trailing 29-21 with three minutes left in the third quarter, Cashion Head Coach John Hardaway felt like his team was on the verge of getting blown out. The No. 2 Wildcats were in their third game in as many days, and the usual high-energy was lacking. That’s when Hardaway decided to roll the dice.
The Wildcats did a line change, subbing all five starters off the floor, bringing in a whole new group. The move proved to be the right one, as the second five would hold the score steady over the final three minutes of the quarter, giving the Wildcats only an eight-point gap to overcome in the fourth.
After scoring only two points in the third, the Cashion starters returned to begin the fourth quarter and exploded for 19 points in the frame, sending the game into overtime. In overtime, the Wildcats held Hennessey to just two points and won the game on a TJ Roberts put back with four seconds to go.
“I felt like we were teetering on getting beat and maybe getting beat badly there in the third quarter,” Hardaway said. “We were struggling to get rebounds and our offensive flow was bad, so I just decided to sub five out and five in. That changed the mojo up and it gave our starters a chance to rest those final three minutes and the break in between the quarters. That second five really changed the game for us and credit to them because they changed the mojo. The willingness of this team to trust one another is awesome. It’s really cool.”
The overtime win over Hennessy gave Cashion its first-ever Three Rivers Conference title in the regular season. Cashion won its first-ever Three Rivers Conference Tournament title last season.
“The conference has been around since 2003 and for this to be the first time we have won it, that’s pretty cool,” Hardaway said. “This conference is always so competitive and everyone knows each other really well and to finally be able to win it, that’s awesome. I’m really happy for the kids, this is something they really wanted to do.”
The Wildcats knew last Friday that to win the Three Rivers Conference title, they would have to go undefeated in their next four games. It started with an 81-59 win over Watonga last Friday. Then Cashion used a dominant second half against rival Crescent on Monday to win 80-32.
Cashion returned home on Tuesday to face a tough Okarche team, where they eeked out a 56-51 win. Then Cashion sealed the deal on Wednesday, relinquishing Hennessey’s run as conference champions.
“We knew we had to win all four games if we wanted to win the conference,” Hardaway said. “We knew we had the opportunity to play Watonga, Crescent, Okarche, and Hennessey to win it and that was a nice motivational target for us.”