(T-G Photo by Chris Siers)
"They're quiet kids, but they're very intense. We went to the press and it changed the whole game there in the third quarter," said Cascade coach Mike Edmondson.
The Champs (14-6, 8-3 9-A) trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second quarter, but were able to make necessary adjustments to snatch the lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
The early deficit was a direct result of the mismatches the Tigers brought to the floor with such an athletic lineup.
"They're hard for us to guard just because of the individual match ups. We tried to play a little zone on them and it wasn't very effective," Edmondson said.
Cascade struggled to slow the dribble penetration through much of the first half. Fayetteville's Nicholas Hopkins and James Keith pounded the lane in the first quarter and helped catapult out to an 18-7 lead, while the Champs struggled to get the perimeter attack rolling.
While Cascade has been known for the ranged assault, the Champs only managed a pair of treys in the first half.
Even though Cascade outscored the home team 9-8 in the second quarter, the Tigers still carried a 10-point lead into the break.
Needing to make some adjustments, Cascade's defense took over in the third quarter.
"They did everything right in the first half. It finally just took a few turnovers for it to be a change for us," Edmondson said.
Those Tiger turnovers came at opportune moments for Cascade, who started to flex the offensive muscle from range in the third.
Bryce Clinton and Will Holt fueled the 3-point game in the third, while Alex Hatchett and Jesse Barnes worked the lane and were able to draw key fouls to get to the line.
Hatchett and Barnes combined 6-for-6 in the third from the charity stripe. The Champs closed the quarter on a 13-2 run and finished the third frame down just two points.
The Tigers' lead disappeared early in the fourth thanks to a pair of triples by Holt and Hatchett, putting Cascade up 41-39 with 6:35 left to play.
Fayetteville struck back and recaptured the lead with just over four minutes to play, but Cascade's defense forced a couple of turnovers and got a handful of buckets in transition to take a 46-45 lead with less than three minutes to go.
The final minutes essentially became a foul-fest in which Cascade was able to take full advantage.
In the final three minutes, Cascade went 10-for-16 from the charity stripe, which proved to be just enough to fend off the pesky Tigers.
In addition to hitting key free throws at key points in the third and fourth quarters, Edmondson credited Cascade's ability to battle back on the glass and haul in key rebounds.
"Alex (Hatchett) did a good job. I thought he rebounded really well. We were getting killed on the boards and he started getting on the boards in the second half," Edmondson said.
In all, Holt led all scorers with 17 points, including three triples. Hatchet added 16 more for the Champs' winning cause and nearly posted a double-double. He led the Champs on the glass with seven boards.
The Tigers also saw key points from Nicholas Hopkisn and James Keith, who each added 14 points. Isaiah Thompson led the Tiger game in the paint with 11 points.
With the win, Cascade sets its sights on Forrest, who is knocked off District 9-A leader MTCS on Tuesday night, 67-48.
Tip-off against the Rockets is set for 7:30 on Friday night in Wartrace.
Cascade 7 9 17 22 -- 57
Fayetteville 18 8 11 14 -- 51
Cascade: Will Holt 17, Alex Hatchett 16, Jesse Barnes 10, Blake Floyd 5, James Lattimore 4, Bryce Clinton 3, Jake Pimental 2.
Fayetteville: Nicholas Hopkins 14, James Keith 14, Isaiah Thompson 11, Michael Parks 9, Aaron Parks 3.
3-Point goals: Cascade (6): Holt 3, Hatchett 2, Clinton; Fayetteville (3): Hopkins 2, M. Parks.
Halftime score: Fayetteville 26, Cascade 16.