By Jake Thompson
CLAYTON — Cascade hosted a doubleheader last night against Greencastle that held conference implications for all of the teams.
Cascade coach Don Helmick said at the beginning of the season the Cadets always want to make last night’s game against Greencastle mean something with regards to conference play. Helmick and the Cadets got their wish, needing a win against the Tiger Cubs to stay within a game of West Central Conference leader Monrovia.
Despite trailing by 12 at the break and with a strong second half of pay, the Cadets pulled out a 58-48 win.
“The last four games this has happened and the only difference between tonight and our last three games is we scored more than 11 points in the first half,” Helmick said. “We battled back today and whether we are back in that conference or not, Monrovia has to win. Tonight’s game was important for that aspect.”
Cascade led 14-12 after the first, but Greencastle pulled away in the second. The Tiger Cubs took a 34-22 halftime lead on the back of some hot shooting. Greencastle went 9 of 15 from the field, hitting an impressive 4 of 5 from behind the arc.
“We started off pretty good in the first quarter and then they started stroking the three,” Helmick said.
Down 39-26 in the opening moments of the third, Cascade hit three, 3-pointers —two by Roxanna Gaddis and one by Sydney Stein — and that pulled the Cadets within four midway through the third.
Cascade stepped up its defensive intensity in the third and while it helped offensively, the Cadets put the Tiger Cubs in the bonus with 1:58 left in the quarter.
That did not matter because the defensive pressure took its toll on the Tiger Cubs as Greencastle shot a miserable 4 of 22 in the second half.
After three quarters, Cascade trailed 43-38 but the momentum was clearly on the Cadets’ side.
Cascade went on a 20-5 run to end the game and had three players finish in double digits. Brittany Sallee scored 15 and the combination of Stein and Gaddis each tallied 18 a piece.
The Cadets have now won four straight and picked up some momentum heading down the stretch into tournament play.
“We licked some wounds along the way, we are starting to play better and find some things we do well,” Helmick said. “We just have to build on that.”
With Greencastle at 2-2 in the WCC and Cascade playing its final conference game with a 2-2 record, the Cadets needed a win. While the 56-47 victory makes it seem like the contest was close, the Cadets dominated with good defense.
“Our defense was pretty good. We held them to 16 points in the first half,” Cascade coach Chris Dubois said. “Our offense was not liked I’d wanted it to be but a lot of that was because of Greencastle. They switched their man defense and that caused us some problems.”
The key to Cascade’s success over Greencastle was rebounding and second chance points.
“A lot of that is Daljot (Bajwa),” Dubois said. “He did a great job inside on the glass. He carried us in that first half. One of our keys tonight was to own the paint. We thought we could own the paint and Daljot was the anchor for that.”
Bajwa finished with a double-double, scoring 23 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Cascade’s Hayden Suter found his grove in the second half, putting up 15 of his 18 points in the final two periods. Suter went 3 of 4 from behind the arc, including one that made his coach take notice.
“I don’t think he called the bank on that one, but we’ll take it,” Dubois said with a laugh. “Once he gets going, our whole team gets going. That’s something we didn’t have in the first half.”
Cascade’s defensive pressure forced Greencastle into an abysmal 13 of 45 shooting on the night. The Tiger Cubs did not have more than three field goals in the any of the first three quarters.
Dubois said the Cadets’ scouting played a part in that poor shooting performance.
“Some of that is playing against different zones and Greencastle doesn’t do a very good job of that,” he said. “We knew that going in. But they did miss some shots and some of that in the second half was our defense closing in on their shooters.”