(T-G Photo by Chris Siers)
"We basically played straight up man with them. We got it back with what we were supposed to be doing--pounding it inside. We kept whittling it away and I think they had some bad shots there for a while," said Cascade coach Mike Edmondson.
While able to match the Cougs early on, the Champs quickly fell behind as MTCS took off on a 18-0 run to extend the lead to 24-8 early in the second quarter.
Despite playing up-tempo, the Champs were eventually able to settle down and start hitting shots.
By the end of the first half, Cascade still was down 36-20 and desperately needed to find away to slow down Cougar standout, Derrick Spears, who had 17 points after just two quarters of play.
Eventually, Cascade did begin to find it's offensive production in the second half.
With just under 4:30 to play in the third, the Champs faced a 12-point deficit.
That's when the post-game took over for Cascade.
The Champs, led by Jesse Barnes, Blake Floyd, and James Lattimore, erupted on a 15-2 run to close the quarter down just four points.
"James and Jesse played well inside. I thought Blake kind of took it to them for a while, too. The thing about Alex (Hatchett), he can step out and that opens up the guys inside," Edmondson.
In the third quarter alone, Cascade outscored the Cougars 19-8 and sat poised with plenty of momentum to take the lead in the fourth.
Jake Pimental brought the Champs within two points with a huge 3-pointer to open the final quarter.
MTCS once again started to pull away, but following a technical foul, Will Holt drilled a pair of free throws. Shortly after, Jesse Barnes converted a 3-point play after hitting a 5-footer and connected on the ensuing foul shot to keep the Champs within striking distance.
With the big points by Holt and Barnes, the teams continued the cat and mouse game continued as time ticked by.
Down 57-56 with under a minute to play, Barnes came up with a huge steal and set up the potential game winning opportunity for Cascade.
As with most of the game, the Champs worked the ball inside and found the shot they needed, but Spears came up with a game-saving block for the Cougs.
"That's what he does. Spears is hard to guard," Edmondson said.
Ty Hageman added an insurance shot inside of 10 seconds to put the game away for the Cougars.
Despite the slow start, Cascade saw three players hit double figures, with Holt's 16 leading the way. Floyd and Barnes keyed the inside game as well, scoring 13 and 11, respectively.
Cascade will attempt to rebound on Tuesday when the Moore County Raiders visit the Stable. Tipoff is set to follow the Lady Champion's game.
"They're resilient. We'll get back to work and get ready for Moore County," Edmondson.
Cascade 8 12 19 17 -- 56
MTCS 19 17 8 15 -- 59
Cascade: Will Holt 16, Blake Floyd 13, Jesse Barnes 11, James Lattimore 7, Alex Hatchett 3, Jake Pimental 3, Bryce Clinton 3.
MTCS: Derrick Spears 23, Ty Hageman 12, Ben Brown 11, David Capps 7, Bryson Crear 6.
3-Point goals: Cascade (6): Holt 2, Hatchett, Pimental, Lattimore, Clinton; MTCS (4): Brown 2, Spears, Hageman.
Halftime score: MTCS 36, Cascade 20.