Head coach Greg Scott said after the Colonels‚ who won 64-54, streaked out to their lead, he tried during the break to prepare his players for their cross-county rivals to come charging back.
Talk about prophetic!
The Woodland charge started 18 seconds into the second half -- right after Tarris Batiste hit a bucket to lift Cass to its biggest lead of the evening at 36-19.
The charge started seconds later when Adam Tobin hit one in the paint and the Wildcats didn't look back until they had tallied 14 unanswered points -- keyed by an old-fashioned 3-point play by R.J. Williams, buckets by Daryel Morris and Chandler Royal and treys by Greg Murphy and Xavier Niblet.
During that four-minute stretch of the third quarter, they closed to within three points, at 36-33, in a serious attempt to take over the game on the road in their opponents' new gym.
But just when things looked darkest for the Colonels, Jay Stephens worked his way to the foul line and sank two free throws for some breathing room. Stephens then added two unanswered buckets and Batiste followed suit with a 2-pointer and the Cass lead was back up to eight points.
Woodland remained game, though, and kept it close the rest of the third quarter, closing it with a 46-41 margin.
Halfway through the final period, Cass laid a 10-7 run on Woodland to go up 56-48, and the Wildcats pinned their hopes on taking some of the starch out of the Cass lead courtesy of the foul line. That didn't happen, however, as Sam Taylor went 6-of-8 from the charity stripe and Batiste and Tony Mitchell combined for 2-of-4 foul shooting to put the finishing touches on the Colonels 64-54 victory.
Scott said he was proud of how his team responded to Woodland's comeback attempt.
"To our kids' credit, we were able to keep our composure when Woodland came at us," the coach said. "Sam Taylor made some big free throws late for us."
Scott said the win is important because of the Cass-Woodland rivalry but even more so because the teams are in the same region and want position for seeding in the playoffs.
"Every game is like a playoff at this point in our season," he said. "We both need every region win we can get."
He said the fact Woodland came back was no surprise.
"They are a well coached, good team that has played hard all season," he said. "We didn't expect anything less than this from them."
Scott said the barnburner was a nice way to introduce the school's new gym to the cross-county rivalry.
"It was loud in there and we've got an idea now of just how loud it can get," he said.
The coach said the crowd included not only Cass students, parents and faculty but also a lot of the Cass alumni.
For good measure, he said, the crowd included youngsters from Cass Middle and South Central Middle.
"We kind of gave our future students a taste of what this rivalry is like," he added.
For Cass, Sam Taylor sank 15 points, Jay Stephens, 14; Tarris Batiste, 11; and Tony Mitchell, 10.
Xavier Niblet led the Wildcats with 17 points while Greg Murphy added 12 and Chandler Royal swished the nets for 9.