Gallery by Tina Laney
White Sulphur Springs – Cabell Midland won the inaugural boys championship last year at the Battle for the Springhouse.
After dropping the opener Friday night to Class AAA No. 1 Shady Spring, the Knights took aim at Class AAAA No. 5 Greenbrier East in the consolation game Saturday afternoon.
With both teams feeling the effects of a grueling game Friday night, Saturday’s battle was a grinder, but Midland had a little bit more in the tank.
Even though the game was tied five times, the Knights never trailed in securing a 49-45 win over the Spartans.
“I thought we played hard yesterday, but we didn’t have the third quarter that we wanted. I thought if we came with that same intensity today that we would be in a good spot,” Cabell Midland head coach J.J. Martin said. “I thought Greenbrier East did a good job, especially after getting down early. We knew they were going to battle. They like to play fast and I am super happy for these guys with the way we competed this weekend.”
Slow starts are nothing knew for Greenbrier East and Saturday was more of the same.
Following a 2-2 tie, the Knights exploded for nine straight points and led 13-4 after the first quarter.
“We talk about getting on it after the tip, but we have only really done that a couple of times this year. We have to do better,” Greenbrier East head coach Jared Patton said. “It’s like we settle early. If we are not hitting and not doing the things we need to on the offensive end, we dig ourselves a whole. That happened again today.”
The Spartans fought back to tie the game at 16-apiece in the second quarter, but when the halftime horn sounded, East trailed 22-18.
“We didn’t play our game today. The kids had some dead legs and it showed,” Patton said. “It was very uncharacteristic of us as a team considering the way have played so far this year.”
The game remained tight through the third period with the Spartans tying the score twice before Midland secured a 32-30 lead with eight minutes remaining in the contest.
A pair of free-throws from Goose Gabbert tied the score early in the final quarter before a cold stretch sunk the Spartans.
With East struggling to score, Cabell Midland ran off eight straight points to lead 40-32 with 5:08 to play.
“They are a good team with some athletic guys. I thought we were the bigger team and we wanted to get it inside,” Martin said. “I don’t think we shot the ball really well, but it is kind of tough in here. It was a grind and all about effort tonight.”
The Spartans never quit and pulled within two points with 27 seconds to play before Midland secured the win at the line down the stretch.
Martin was especially pleased with his team’s defense on the night, only surrendering 45 points in the win.
“We were trying the win the championship again, but at least winning today was big. Greenbrier East is No. 5 in the state, so this is a big win for us,” Martin said. “We are at our best when we play defense, get stops and get out in transition. Our main thing is having effort on defense and rebounding. I felt like we did that today and that is why were able to come out with a win.”
Patton kept the weekend in perspective for his team.
“As we have talked about (in the locker room) after the game, everything is a scrimmage leading up to the postseason,” Patton said. “We know the games that we have to go after and need to win. It would have been nice to win today, but we are over here to learn and get better.”
GE: 4 14 12 15 – 45
CM: 13 9 10 17 – 49
Adam Seams 4, Monquelle Davis 5, Goose Gabbert 21, Gabe Patton 3, Chris Sinclair 8, Kaiden Huffman 4.
Jack Eastone 8, Isaac Pettit 14, Dominic Schmidt 8, Aiden Cottrell 14, Ethan Bohm 5.