WAXHAW – The start of this season wasn’t a pretty one in the wins and losses column, but it has hardened a young Cuthbertson team into one that can beat anyone on a given night.
The Cavs started the season with six consecutive losses, many of which came in very close games. That was almost to be expected for coach Mike Helms, who returned two stars from last season’s team, but little else.
“We were playing a lot of guys that were playing JV last year, and in the beginning of the year, it showed,” Helms said. “We’ve gotten better and better as the year has gone on.”
The Cavs responded to their slow start by winning six of their next eight games that included a 3-1 start in the Southern Carolinas before the calendar flipped to 2020.
Cuthbertson (7-12 overall, 4-5 conference, through Jan. 27) has fallen some since their rebound, but they’re building on something that could be pretty special.
Junior wing JP Haggarty has had a breakout season and is averaging 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Sun Valley coach Keith Mason said following the Spartans’ five-point win that Haggarty was their main focus after he torched them in the team’s first meeting. Haggarty can hurt teams from behind the 3-point arc or at the rim, is a good passer and rebounder, and doesn’t shy from contact.
Junior point guard Will Hayward (8.7 points and 4 assists per game) is a talented ball handler and shooter who gets the team into their offense with ease.
KK Slay, Terrell Ray, Christian Alston and Tyrell Dawson, one of just three seniors, all played well in the loss to Sun Valley.
Even so, Helms wasn’t particularly pleased with the effort as Sun Valley jumped out to a 46-43 halftime lead.
“We lost that game in the first half,” he said. “I didn’t think we had a lot of urgency and effort, and we gave up a lot more points than we like to give up in a half. I felt like in the first half we got face cut for layups and just didn’t play well defensively.”
Helms liked how his team responded defensively in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
“If this group, consistently and every time we put the jersey on, can play defense like they did in the first six minutes, we can be pretty good,” he said.