By Michael Lindsay
The UC #1-ranked Stone Memorial Panthers cruised to an 83-43 victory over cross-town rival and District 7AAA foe Cumberland County Tuesday evening to complete the season sweep of the Jets.
“I knew they were going to come out ready to compete,” said Stone Memorial head coach Neil Capps. “Coach Taylor Denney, Randy Herring and Jon Torres are working their tails off and their guys are showing a lot of improvement. I knew it was going to be a fight, and that’s exactly what it was.”
The Panthers were led by a pair of 18-point performances from sophomore Cade Capps and senior Matthew Bilbrey. Guard Preston Mayberry had 15 points off the bench for the Panthers.
Leading Cumberland County was Braeden Woodard with 17 points along with Jaxon Reed scoring 16.
Cumberland County tested the Panthers early as a Reed three-pointer cut the SMHS lead to 11-8 with 2:44 remaining in the opening period.
“We wanted to set the tone defensively,” coach Capps said. “Even with that, they were making some tough shots and getting to the rim. We continued to dig and adjust.”
Stone Memorial closed out the first quarter strong as a three-pointer from Mayberry and two baskets from Cade Capps gave the Panthers an 18-11 lead to end the period.
Stone Memorial took control in the second period as they outscored the Jets 21-13 in the frame to lead 39-24 at halftime. Bilbrey had 10 points in the second quarter along with two three-pointers from Mayberry.
The Panther offense stayed red-hot in the second half as a 27-point third quarter put Stone Memorial up 66-36 before winning by an 83-43 final.
Stone Memorial improves to 8-0 in district play with the win over rival Cumberland County.
“The rivalry and bragging rights may be important, but the district implications matter way more,” coach Capps said. “You want those bragging rights, but I wanted us to understand how important it is in district play. There’s a lot of emotion in a rivalry game.”
Up next for Stone Memorial is a trip to White County (14-9, 4-4) on Friday. The Panthers defeated Sparta 57-42 on Jan. 3.
“There’s no question that’s a tough, tradition-rich environment,” Capps said. “They’ve had a lot of success in that gym over the years, and coach Eric Mitchell does a great job. We know what we have ahead of us; it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Cumberland County hits the road to non-district foe Pickett County (12-9) on Friday.
Stone Memorial (83): Matthew Bilbrey 18, Cade Capps 18, Preston Mayberry 15, Wyatt Grothe 9, Brady Lane 8, Blake Holt 6, Jordan Manis 3, Zaiden Rice 2, Conner Bowman 2, Nathan Houston 2
Cumberland County (43): Braeden Woodard 17, Jaxon Reed 16, Braden Leviner 3, Ethan Dixon 3, Dylon Smith 2, Jayden Rodriguez 2