Despite being shorthanded and young, The Community School boys' varsity basketball team keeps hanging in there and posing a significant challenge for its foes this season.
The latest examples were the Cutthroat 64-33 non-conference road win over the Twin Falls Christian Academy Warriors Thursday and two hard-fought Northside Conference games—a loss to Richfield and Monday's win at Camas County.
In Monday's league game, the Cutthroats (3-8, 2-5 league) battled through 29 turnovers and erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit en route to a 48-43 victory over Camas County (6-5, 5-3 league).
His team trailing 32-22 in the third, Cutthroat coach Mike Wade switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense which baffled the favored Mushers (20 turnovers).
Wade said, "The zone worked well and slowed their offense down. They were pretty high powered against our man-to-man. In the first half, Camas helped us by missing shots. But in the second half our defense shut them down."
The Cutthroats broke through the persistent Musher press on a 23-6 run in the third and fourth periods.
Sparking the run was a 3-pointer by guard Alden Remington (7 points, 3 boards, 2 steals, 3 assists) and a steal and transition hoop by Remington. Christian Cairncross (12 points including three 3-pointers) hit from behind the arc and suddenly the Cutthroats were behind by only 32-30.
The Cutthroats keep hammering the ball down low with 6-5 sophomore post Mac Whittington (12 points, 13 rebounds) and soph wing Spencer Harris (game-high 15 points plus 7 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists).
Cairncross nailed another 3-pointer, from Remington, for a 41-38 lead, and Whittington scored close to the hoop on a pass by Brendan Nelson (2 points, 5 boards, 2 steals, 2 assists) inflating the Sun Valley cushion to 45-38 with 1:41 left.
Sun Valley hit 10-for-15 from the free throw line (Whittington 4-for-5). It was the first time in 11 games that the Cutthroats have outscored an opponent at the charity stripe.
"We hung in there," said Wade.
Leading the Mushers, who had 20 steals, were Chase Lee (15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists), Trevor Dalin (11 points, 8 boards, 3 steals), Zack Kandler (7 points, 4 rebounds), Josh Shroyer (5 points, 3 boards, 8 steals) and Ben McLam (5 points, 3 steals).
Last Thursday, junior Cairncross (7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) was the big gun with 18 points including five 3-pointers in the 31-point victory over Twin Falls Christian Academy (2-9). The result snapped a four-game losing skid for the Cutthroats.
Wade said, "We had size and speed on them and were able to execute all of our offensive and defensive sets like we wanted to. We moved and shared the basketball really well. All players scored including four in double figures. Brendan Nelson had an outstanding eight assists.
"Christian's five 3-pointers was just one away from tying the school record. We continue to be plagued by unforced turnovers. We're hoping for progress in that area as we go down the stretch with the second half of our conference season."
Other Cutthroat contributors included Whittington (15 points, 9 boards, 2 blocks), Spencer Harris (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks), Remington (10 points, 6 assists, 3 steals), Max Harris (6 points) and Nelson (2 points, 8 assists, 3 steals).
Saturday night at The Fish Tank, Richfield (11-3, 5-1 Northside) broke open a close 43-36 game with a 22-point fourth quarter and went on to defeat the host Cutthroats 68-46. Harlie Amy (21) led Richfield.
"We were competitive for three full quarters," said Wade. "However, Mac Whittington fouled out one minute into the fourth quarter, which made a huge difference in Richfield's ability to attack the basket. We just didn't have the presence in the lane."
It was an excellent game for 6-0 hot prospect Spencer Harris, who scored a season-best 17 points (7-for-9 at the line) with 8 rebounds. Harris (8.9 ppg) has averaged 12.0 ppg in the last six Cutthroat games.
Leading Cutthroat scorer Cairncross (13.0 ppg, 26 3-pointers) added 13 points including four 3-pointers against Richfield. Nelson had 8 points and 6 rebounds, Whittington 8 points and 2 blocks, and Max Harris 7 defensive rebounds.
Wade said a season-high 31 turnovers hurt the Cutthroat cause in the Richfield game.
The Cutthroats host Dietrich (4-9, 2-4 league) Saturday, Jan. 24 and travel to #1-ranked Idaho 1A Carey next Tuesday.
In Thursday's junior varsity game, the young Cutthroats (4-8, 3-5 league) pieced together excellent team and individual play and bested Twin Falls Christian 49-28.
Ian Ingram (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 steals) had a big game against the Warriors. Many of his points came from outstanding passing by Max Sabel (9 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 10 steals). Casper Brun added 14 points and 5 rebounds and Eddy Albarran 6 points.
Sabel added 15 points and Jeff Gaecke 11 points and 14 rebounds in Saturday's 45-38 JV home loss to Richfield. Casper Brun added 7 rebounds. And on Monday in Fairfield, Gaecke tallied 17 points and Ingram 14 as the Cutthroats defeated Camas County 43-35. Lucas Vorsteveld, Brun and Max Sabel each chipped in 4 points. Jordan Lemons topped the Mushers with 14 points.