There always seems to be one game a season that causes the head coach to just scratch his head.
For Jacob Brindle, head coach of the Cascade boys’ basketball team, didn’t have to get very far into the season to have his head-scratching moment as his Cougars dropped a tough 29-28 road loss to West Branch Dec. 13, just three days after earning a solid 48-35 road win over Bellevue.
Cascade moved to 2-2 for the season and 2-2 in their River Valley Conference battles after going 1-1 last week. The high point of the week was their coast to coast victory over Bellevue. Alex Aitchison and Carter Green each scored 12 to lead the Cougars who also got nine points from Caden Reinke as they controlled the game from the opening tip. A lot of that had to do with their defense as they shut down Bellevue’s offense holding them to season-low 35 points, 15 below their season average. An active Aitchison had a hand in that as he swatted away three shots and was sharp offensively making six of his eight.
Cascade was only up by three, 26-23, at halftime, but took the court in the second with a focused defensive effort that controlled the game as the visitors coasted to a 48-35 win.
“We weren’t as efficient offensively as we were in the first half but we did take care of the ball a little better and took great shots,” said Brindle. “Our effort coming out of halftime was great. We made a few little adjustments and that helped us get this win.”
As far as their battle in West Branch, the defense was on display by both teams. Neither team scored more than 10 points in a quarter and Cascade was held to just 10 in the first half.
“We guarded our butts off. It was two teams going as hard as they could defensively. We made it tough for them to score, but our biggest thing we just kept missing shots,” said Brindle. “There were opportunities we had to make some plays that we didn’t. We got some good looks at open threes that we’re not making right now and we have to figure out who the guy is who can make those shots for us.”
Down 13-10 at halftime, the Cougars’ offense warmed up as they outscored the Bears but still found themselves down by two, 21-19, after three-quarters of play. West Branch built their lead up to six points, 25-19, with five minutes left in the game. That’s when the Cougars made a push to try to take over the game. Willy Potter’s three-pointer, the Cougars’ only three of the game, gave Cascade a 26-25 advantage and they managed to score another basket as they held a 28-25 lead with a minute left to play.
Trey Eagle knocked down a three to tie the game at 28-28, and after the Cougars were called for a moving screen trying to hold the ball for the last shot, Matt Whaley got loose in the paint and was fouled as he attempted a lay-up. With six seconds left on the clock, Whaley made one of two free throws and the Cougars missed a last-second shot.
“We guarded hard enough to get the win, but we’ll keep working at it,” said Brindle. “We lost when we could have won, but these guys are going to go back to work to get better. That’s all I can ask of these guys. We’ll push through this and hope that shots will start to fall.”
Cascade’s leaders against Bellevue were: points — Aitchison and Carter Green 12, Caden Reinke nine, Michael Trumm six, Potter three, Eli Green, Jackson McAleer and Cooper Rausch two; rebounds — Carter Green six, Aitchison and McAleer five, Reinke four, Rausch three, Cael McDermott and Trumm one; assists — Reinke five, Carter Green three, Aitchison and Trumm two, Eli Green, Potter and Rausch one; steals — Aitchison three, Carter Green, Reinke and Trumm two, Potter and Rausch one; blocks — Aitchison three, Carter Green two, Hugh Molony and Reinke one.
Leading Cascade against West Branch were: points — Carter Green 10, Reinke nine, Trumm four, Potter three, Aitchison two; rebounds — Carter Green seven, Aitchison six, Reinke and Trumm four, Potter and Rausch two; assists — Trumm six, Carter Green and Reinke one; steals — Trumm two, Carter Green and Rausch one; blocks — Aitchison five, Carter Green and Trumm one.