River Ridge District Scholastic Bowl champions Cave Spring High School: Front l-r, Brett Smith, Anna Smith Troy Von Beck, Marissa Stearns. Back, l-r: Alex Petzen, Zach Foutz, McKennon Flint, captain Michael Zhang, Ellie Timmerman, James Cole, coach Bob Powers.
To the casual observer, the story at January 27′s River Ridge District Tournament for Scholastic Bowl was Cave Spring’s regaining the title it last won in 2009 by winning three straight tournament matches in the double elimination tourney. But the real story was in the way the Knights won, squeezing out late wins each time against quality competition.
Each Scholastic Bowl match consists of 50 questions across a variety of subjects. In a string of clutch performances, second seed Cave Spring prevailed after each match was in doubt into the final two questions. Team captain Michael Zhang was a reliable force throughout the tournament, averaging 78 points per match, but all the Knight team members contributed at key times.
“I was really happy with how we played today,” coach Bob Knight said. “The kids were really sharp. We minimized our mistakes and played smart. I can’t ask for anything more.”
The opening match against Salem was tied 55-55 after the first round, with McKennon Flint picking up 20 points to help avert a slow start. After the Knights edged ahead by 20 going into the final round of 15 questions, Karl Sorenson and the Spartans repeatedly made runs for the lead. Zhang and Zach Foutz barely held them off, as Sorenson couldn’t come up with the tying points on the last question and the Knights closed out a 210-185 point win.
The victory put Cave Spring against regular season champion Christiansburg, who had defeated Cave Spring 270-205 earlier in the year. The Knights fell behind by 30 points midway through the final round, pulled back into a tie, and then fell 15 points behind with four questions to go. Freshman James Cole then scored 20 to take the lead, and Zhang’s response on the second to last question clinched the Knights’ win, as they escaped with a 220-215 victory.
The Blue Demons fought back through the loser’s bracket to meet Cave Spring again. For the second time, the Knights were tied after the first round, before outscoring Christiansburg in the second round 100-80 to carry a slim lead into the final round. Cave Spring spurted ahead with a 30-5 run only to have Christiansburg climb back with 30 unanswered points of their own. Ellie Timmerman sealed the match on the penultimate question. Appropriately, Zhang scored the final points in the 240-210 victory.
Hidden Valley placed fifth in the tournament, losing the opening match to defending state champion Blacksburg, and falling to Salem in the third round.
The Knights will be joined by the Christiansburg and Blacksburg in the VHSL Region IV tournament, scheduled to be held at Cave Spring High School on Saturday, February 5. The two top teams in the eight-team,double elimination bracket will advance to the Virginia State Tournament, held at William and Mary on February 26.
River Ridge Tournament results, with seeding in parenthesis:
(4) Blacksburg 270 – (5) Hidden Valley 110
(1) Christiansburg 265 – (4) Blacksburg 175
(2) Cave Spring 210 – (3 )Salem 185
(3) Salem 290 – (5) Hidden Valley 95 (Hidden Valley eliminated)
(1) Christiansburg 215 – (2) Cave Spring 220
(3) Salem 170 – (4) Blacksburg 205 (Salem eliminated)
(1) Christiansburg 280 – (2) Blacksburg 130 (Blacksburg eliminated – 3rd place)
(1) Christiansburg 210 – (2) Cave Spring 240 (Christiansburg eliminated – 2nd place)
Submitted by Ken Flint