Cavs want more after losing in state title game last season
It’s the start of a new season, and the goal is to finish even higher in the state for Cuthbertson High’s boys basketball team.
Just a year after finishing 31-2 and reaching the 2A state championship, the Cavaliers are determined to win it this season.
CHS opened up at home by building a 28-point halftime lead against Parkwood on Tuesday. The Cavs substituted liberally after the break and cruised in for a 71-52 win.
“I told our guys that our goal is to be a better team than we were a year ago,” said Cavs coach Mike Helms. “What that leads to, whatever it is, I just want to be a better team. Because if we don’t then we’ve wasted a year with an opportunity to improve.”
Cuthbertson returns its top six scorers from last season, including Union County and Rocky River Conference player of the year Shelton Mitchell.
A junior point guard who has more than 10 Division I scholarship offers, Mitchell said last year’s 58-55 loss to Kinston in the state title game still looms within the team.
“It’s definitely driven me and the rest of the team,” said Mitchell of losing in the state title game last year. “Whenever I’m working out I just think of that state championship game and I know I don’t want that feeling again.”
Helms agrees that the loss to Kinston has driven the team.
“They’ve worked hard as far as coming in and putting in the time, there’s no doubt about it,” said Helms. “Now we just have to focus on the little things. I think our biggest challenge right now with this group is not getting ahead of ourselves and staying focused day to day to do what we’ve got to do to get better.”
Mitchell finished with 16 points and seven steals while senior Justin Austin added 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds off the bench.
Austin, a 6-2 wing, transferred to Cuthbertson from Atlanta in the offseason, according to Helms.
“(Justin) was the brightest spot in the whole game (Tuesday),” said Helms. “He just comes with so much energy. He’s a high-motor guy and he just goes after the boards so hard. He’s not the biggest or strongest guy, but he just puts so much effort into rebounding the basketball. He’s a guy we need.”
Helms admits rebounding was a weakness last year and hopes to vastly improve in that area.
“We’ve got to be a much better rebounding team,” said Helms. “That cost us in the (state championship) and anybody that was there saw that. Right now we still refuse to block out and until we get better at that we’re not going to be a better team.”
Cuthbertson plays Davidson Day in the Charlotte Hoops Challenge at 11 a.m. on Friday.
The Cavaliers begin their RRC title defense at Union Academy on Dec. 7.
“We just want to win,” said Mitchell. “We want to try and win every game. We just want to get better and not be the same team we were last year.”
Cuthbertson 71, Parkwood 52
Sam Mobley 4 1-2 11, McManus 0 0-0 0, James Houston 3 0-0 6, Max Robinson 3 4-7 10, Matt Graves 1 1-7 3, Grey Wyrick 3 0-0 6, Jehon Black 0 2-2 2.
Emmitt Afam 4 1-2 9, Shelton Mitchell 6 4-5 16, Cornelius Stradford 2 0-0 5, Lucius McMillon 1 0-0 2, Isaiah Cureton 3 1-2 7, Justin Austin 6 4-6 16, Zach Chitwood 1 4-5 6, Jorden Hardick-Givens 4 0-0 8, Bobby Barnes 1 0-1 2.
Parkwood 5 8 22 17 - 52
Cuthbertson 19 22 14 16 - 71
3-pointers: P 5 (Mobley 2); C 1 (Stradford). Rebounds: P 31 (Graves 4, Black 4, Houston 4, Mobley 4); C 36 (Austin 11, Cureton 8, McMillon 6). Assists: P 9 (Mobley 2, Wyrick 2); C 8 (Mitchell 3). Steals: P 14 (Robinson 3, McManus 2); C 22 (Mitchell 6, Stradford 3, Austin 3). Blocks: P 4 (Graves 2); C 1 (Cureton).