War of the Woods, Courtside

Drew Calderon (3) dribbles the ball down court, maneuvering around his opponents with the help of his teammates, Nathaniel Murphy (0) and  Markel James (32).

Student Center

Drew Calderon (3) dribbles the ball down court, maneuvering around his opponents with the help of his teammates, Nathaniel Murphy (0) and Markel James (32).

Hannah Dollar

Anticipation heated up the gym as the Cavaliers, and the Highlanders faced off for their second rival game of the season last Sat., Jan. 23rd. Having lost the first game against the Woodlands by just two points, JV came out on the court determined to prove themselves. Varsity brought the same intensity, but with the momentum of their last win against them by 20 points, they knew they had to maintain this, not only for their pride but their undefeated district streak.

JV kicked off the night, matching the Highlander’s full-court pressure and raising it some. CP established a strong lead in the first half, with Junior Ty Gravis topping off a personal six-point run to open the Cav’s lead to 9 points, 27-18. With the Woodlands usual double-teaming the ball and executing their swift court rotation, the Cavs brought their own intensity to another level, making their few quick buckets look effortless. Though, the ruthless Highlanders weren’t the only rivals in the gym that night. With the refs’ sharp whistles, the Cavs racked up three fouls in the first two minutes, giving the Woodlands an opening for advancement. 

“A fan summed up this rivalry when letting the ref know ‘this isn’t that type of game ref! This is CP and the Woodlands; no blood, no foul!” College Park spectator said.

The Highlanders seemed to miss this window for leverage, letting CP slip into the fourth quarter still in the lead. Although the Highlanders got away with a few runs, the lead was short-lived, and they could never close the gap. At the bottom of the fourth, the Woodlands grappled at their rival’s fouls and missed free throws, but it was hopeless. Juniors Jordan Darjean and Ty Gravis lead the way for the win with 15 points each, bringing the final score to 58-47, rewarding JV with a much-deserved victory.

“I feel like personally, I had a bad game, but you know the team’s performance as a whole matters more than anything,” JV player, Alex Fonseca, said. “It was nice that we pulled through and got the win at the end. To improve performance for the next game, I need to just keep moving on the offense and keep playing hard on defense,”

The stands had already begun to swell towards the end of the JV game, preparing for the main event; the varsity rival match-up. Home court advantage, of course, brought the bigger crowd, as College Park’s white-out’ seemed to swallow The Woodlands’ red out.’ CP’s roster was also three players deeper than the Woodlands, but the Highlanders possessed the height advantage with their tallest player at 6’7″. Home spirits dampened with the Woodlands scoring the first two points, but only for a moment, as the Cavs prevailed in the first quarter, 13-8. Protecting their lead, the Cavs became more calculated and precise in their plays and movements, moving into the second half with 24-21; a small edge, but an influential one.

“The first half of the varsity game, neither team is getting many shots to fall; it’s a pretty low scoring game right now,” JV player Ty Gravis said. “We’ll see what the teams have to come out of the second half and see who can prove themselves best.”

The College Park Cavaliers persisted into the second half with a 10 point run to start. The Cavs used their small momentum coming out of the first half to increase their lead to 15 points, showing the Highlanders they were not messing around. However, refs continued to penetrate the game calling six fouls on CP, giving the Woodlands a bonus; a chance to make a free throw. With 45 seconds left, down by 14, The Woodlands started fouling CP, but it was too late for a comeback. Varsity, lead by Junior Ty Buckmon with 13 points and Senior Marvin Dock with 14 points, solidified the win. Once again, they won 56-40, bolstering their pride and increasing their district position to 9-0.

“I want to watch more games this season if they are anywhere close to the excitement of this game,” student spectator Liberty Hasselgren said. “There is perfect competition within our district, giving our boys a challenge and making for exciting games. CP has kept up the spirit and energy this game, and I can see their intensity keeps increasing throughout the season. Personally, I think they are more talented than the Woodlands, and I think this game proved that.”

Both JV and Varsity brought triumph to the Cavalier name in one of the year’s most anticipated rival games. This season’s rivalry is not yet over as the Cavaliers and Highlanders will meet again on Feb. 9th for their third and final game of the season.