There’s still a long way to go in the 2012-13 season, but the Wildcats received a major growth spurt at home on Friday.
Behind a solid defensive effort and 18 points – including four 3-pointers – from junior guard Dylan Mackey, Sand Rock was able to capture its first win of the season, a 42-36 victory over Class 1A, No. 2 Cedar Bluff.
“It was ugly, but I’ll take it,” Coach Mackey said. “The kids played up, and we didn’t back down. Cedar Bluff’s got a good group. They’re strong, but we played good defense, boxed out and cut down on the turnovers. That was the big key, not giving them easy buckets.”
Speaking of buckets, none were bigger than the 3-pointer delivered by freshman guard Caylon Simpson that gave the Wildcats (1-2) a 39-36 lead with 1:05 remaining in the game.
Simpson finished with seven points, including two shots from beyond the arc against the Tigers (3-1).
“That last one was big,” Coach Mackey said. “I was hoping he would pull the trigger when he caught it. He was wide open coming across. Really, we were trying to get another look. We got in our offense, but never did get the look. I told them in the timeout we were in the bonus, and if we attacked, we could go to the line with it. We were in some trouble, but he was wide open. It felt good from the bench when he hit it.”
Sand Rock’s defense and three of four made free throws in the game’s final 32 seconds allowed the Wildcats to escape with the win.
“They hustled their tails off,” Cedar Bluff coach Joe Carpenter said. “It’s a tribute to their effort. They made a gigantic effort to stop us. They stepped in the lane every time we tried to drive. We didn’t answer any call they had. The end result was the best team won tonight.”
The two teams battled to a 7-all tie at the end of the first quarter. Cedar Bluff held a slim 17-16 lead at halftime and a 26-24 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams seemingly matched each other bucket for bucket until Simpson’s trey put the Wildcats ahead to stay.
DeAngelo Hardy led Cedar Bluff with 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Terrence Scales added nine points and 11 boards. Devante Dixon finished with six points and nine rebounds.
Chase Garrett added six points for the Wildcats.
“I talked to them all week about playing hard,” Coach Mackey said. “The first two games, we haven’t scored much, but we said we could make up for it with the effort. We’ve just got to get better every day. If we play hard, we’ll learn as we go.”