Cashion went 23 years without making it to the area tournament before breaking the drought in 2020.
This year’s team made sure it didn’t revert to the old ways…and in dramatic fashion.
Jackson Vandruff scored with 10 seconds to play and the Wildcats got a defensive stop on the other end to secure a 47-46 victory against Christian Heritage Academy.
The victory came in the Class 2A regional semifinal at Stroud and advanced Cashion to Saturday’s regional championship against No. 1 Dale on the Pirates’ home court.
More importantly, Cashion is guaranteed a spot in this week’s area tournament, a streak that has now hit four years.
“That’s something I really wanted to do with this team,” said coach John Hardaway after his team moved to 13-12. “We lost so much experience from last year and we’ve had to rebuild this, so I’m excited they’re going to get the opportunity to keep playing.”
The Wildcats fell behind 10 points in the first quarter to the 16th-ranked Crusaders.
They clawed back to lead 33-32 after three quarters.
Cashion maintained that lead late into the game, but missed opportunities at the free throw line and a couple of turnovers kept the Crusaders within striking distance.
They struck with 20 seconds left.
Luke Thomas grabbed a backside rebound and got the putback to put his team up 46-45.
After a timeout, Cashion was able to beat CHA’s pressure.
Chance Acord eventually split a double team and found Anthony Wilburn in the low post.
Wilburn passed across the lane to Vandruff who laid it off the glass before falling hard to the court.
With no whistle, the Crusaders quickly pushed it up the court and eventually Thomas got off a 16-foot shot at the buzzer.
The miss sent the Wildcat bench into a frenzy before checking on Vandruff, who was just then slowly picking himself up off the floor.
“He’s OK,” Hardaway said Friday morning.
Vandruff was more than OK in the game.
The senior continued his dominant play with 16 points and 11 rebounds, out-dueling Thomas’ 10 points and eight rebounds.
Nathan Nabavi was also big throughout with his 18 points and five assists.
He made Cashion’s only 3-pointer on the night as the team was 1 of 11.
However, the Wildcats were 19 of 35 inside the arc and won the rebound battle 30-21.
Acord scored eight points.
Lady Wildcats in 4th straight regional final
Cashion is in a regional championship game for the fourth straight year.
Reversing the trend of being regional runner-up will be no easy task.
The Lady Wildcats on Thursday downed Chris- tian Heritage Academy 5838 in a Class 2A regional semifinal at Stroud.
The win was Cashion’s sixth in its last eight games and puts it into Saturday night’s regional final against No. 1 Dale.
Dale is responsible for one of those losses in that recent stretch and has defeated Cashion twice this season.
The Lady Wildcats built a 10-point lead by halftime on CHA despite Megan Shafer sitting out much of it with two fouls.
The sophomore post still led all scorers with 14 points, but Cashion got even scoring across the board.
Five different players scored at least eight points.
Lauren Jenkins added 12 points, Madison Westerhoff nine and Reese Williams eight.
Then there’s Addison McCracken.
The sophomore knocked down three 3-pointers as Cashion continued to build on its lead in the second half.
She finished with a career- high 11 points.
Cashion entered Saturday’s regional final with a 12-13 record.