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Cascade Tames Top-Ranked Santa Fe Wildcats

Noah Maddox
Posted 2/5/24

The Cascade Champions went on the road and spoiled homecoming for the Number 1 ranked team in Class 1-A for Tennessee in the Santa Fe Wildcats, 56-51.

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Cascade Tames Top-Ranked Santa Fe Wildcats

Zach Crosslin (11) goes up for two of his team-high 15 points in Friday's upset win at Santa Fe.
Zach Crosslin (11) goes up for two of his team-high 15 points in Friday's upset win at Santa Fe.
David Smith

The Cascade Champions went on the road Friday night and knocked off the top-ranked team in Class 1-A, the Santa Fe Wildcats, and spoiled their homecoming in a 56-51 heart-stopping win.

With Mr. Basketball favorite Auden Slaughter on the sidelines in street clothes, Cascade took full advantage of his absence in the third quarter, outscoring the home side 13-5 to give them a 40-32 lead going into the final frame. Despite the big lead, Santa Fe would make one final push, going on a 11-2 run to take a 43-42 lead with just under four minutes to go.

In response, Henry Stone would finish a tough layup to regain the lead, and then Saebyn Burris came up with a steal on back-to-back possessions. Burris would get fouled on both drives to the basket, connecting on three of four free throws to help take the air out of Santa Fe’s comeback attempt.

Cascade bowed up defensively as soon as they gave up their lead, closing out the game at the free throw line that culminated in a 15-8 in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter to exact revenge for the 19-point home loss to the Wildcats back on November 27.

After starting the season 18-1, Santa Fe has now lost three straight, including one in district play, after Class 1-A Mr. Basketball favorite Auden Slaughter sprained his ankle. This injury has caused him to miss two non-district clashes, against Frank Hughes and Cascade, and limited his minutes in Tuesday’s district loss at Richland. He also missed the Wildcats eight-point win at district foe Cornersville on January 26.

Cascade was led by Zach Crosslin with 15 points, including numerous clutch free throws late in the fourth quarter to close out the hosts. He was joined in double-figures by Henry Stone with 11. Additionally, Saebyn Burris chipped in with nine points, Tucker McGee scored eight, and the team’s leading scorer on the year, Isaac McElroy, added six of his own. 

Andrew Graves led Santa Fe with a game-high 15 points, Austin Hazlett chipped in 14 points with 11 of them coming in the second half, and Macon Adkinson scored 12 points. Jax Slaughter added six points of his own, but in the end it was not enough to overcome the more than 30 points-per-game void left by Auden Slaughter.

Despite their offensive shortcomings, the opening period started promisingly for the hosts as they jumped out to a 16-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

The entire first half ended up being closely contested because Cascade would respond in the second quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 15-11 in the second quarter. The teams would go into the halftime locker room knotted at 27-27, but the visitors would make their afore-mentioned move in the third quarter to set up an exhilarating final frame.

Santa Fe falls to 18-4 (5-1) and will resume district play on Tuesday at home against Hampshire.

Cascade improves to 9-14 (3-3) and are set to celebrate Senior Night before Tuesday’s home district rematch with Grundy County.

Cascade Champions, Sante Fe Wildcats, Zach Crosslin, Henry Stone, Saebyn Burris, Tucker McGee, Isaac McElroy