HARROGATE, Tenn. — So far 2013 has been a very good year for the Cumberland Gap Panthers. Thanks in large part to a more aggressive fullcourt press the Panthers have posted four straight lopsided wins since the calendar flipped, including two this week. CGHS downed Thomas Walker, Va., 78-32 on Monday and on Tuesday they romped to a 79-36 district win over South Greene.
“This how we should have been playing all along. We’re playing with a purpose now, and I don’t think we were before,” said Cumberland Gap coach Ernie Clawson. “I think a lot of them are starting to understand that this is their senior year and it’s time to start picking it up. The leadership is starting to evolve.
“I’m very proud of how we have responded to what I asked them after the Union County tournament.”
In Tuesday’s win senior point guard Trevor Graves led four Panthers in double-figures with 17 points. Blake Arnold added 15, Nathan Hatmaker 14 and Isaac Daniels ten. South was led by Cody Robinson’s 10 points while Nick Fillers and Bo Woods finished with eight each.
“Trevor has become a more confident player. His shooting has been outstanding and he’s making good decisions with the basketball. He’s being more of floor leader and getting us into our offenses,” said Clawson. “I think every one of these kids has gotten better and they’re playing harder.”
Graves scored six of his points in the first quarter while Hatmaker and Arnold had five each as the Panthers opened up a 20-12 lead after one.
Woods put in all eight of his points in the first period to help the Rebels stay within striking distance.
The Panther press was overwhelming in the second quarter as they outscored South 26-10 to take complete control of the game. Arnold scored eight points in the period and Cumberland Gap got 3-pointers from him, Graves and Blake Franklin. Hatmaker and Daniels scored six points apiece and by halftime the lead was 46-22.
“We’ve implemented some new defenses and we’ve started rolling with them. The team has really caught on and it’s giving the opposing teams a lot of problems,” Clawson said. “I think the biggest thing with this group is that we’re knocking down shots from the outside. Now you can’t just double-team our post.”
Graves scored eight more points in the third quarter as the lead grew to 30 points. The Panthers continued to pull away in the fourth quarter even after going deep into their bench. Starting guard Matt Wade scored five in the final period, Austin Anderson also put in five points and Adam Jenkins added four as Cumberland Gap went on to the 43-point win.
On Monday, senior forward Nathan Hatmaker had a big game for the Panthers against Thomas Walker. He tallied game highs with 15 points and 14 rebounds and CGHS rolled to a 46-point win over the Pioneers. Graves scored 14 in that one while Daniels and Blake Franklin added ten each. Thomas Walker got seven points each from Zach Bailey and Cody Bryant while Justin Greer finished with six.
The 14 boards followed by six more on Tuesday made Hatmaker Cumberland Gap’s all-team leading rebounder with 556. The number surpasses Javon Crockett’s 551 that had stood as the school record since 2004.
“Nathan got the rebounding record and that’s not a surprise. He’s just a beast on the boards,” said Clawson.
The four-game winning streak puts the Panthers at 11-5 overall and 5-1 in District 2-AA. They’ve got a big game Friday as they travel to Greeneville to take on a Greene Devil team that is unbeaten in district play.
“It’s a big game for us. If we go up there and be mentally tough like we have been I think we’ve got a great chance of coming out with a win. If we revert back to the way we were playing, then no we can’t beat Greeneville on their home floor,” Clawson added. “Greeneville’s always tough there. They’re a well-coached, tough team and a great shooting team. We’ve got to go ready to play.”
— — —
South Greene…12…10…10….4 — 36
Cumb. Gap…….20…26…15…18 — 79
SOUTH GREENE (36): Cody Robinson 10, Bo Woods 8, Nick Fillers 8, Daniel Lowery 3, Jonathan Zanayeta 3, Logan Tweed 2, Manny Alcantara 2, Dylan Yates 0, Elijah Worrells 0, David Worley 0, Justin Casteel 0.
CUMBERLAND GAP (79): Trevor Graves 17, Blake Arnold 15, Nathan Hatmaker 14, Isaac Daniels 10, Matt Wade 7, Adam Jenkins 6, Austin Anderson 5, Blake Franklin 3, Tyler Parker 2, Jordan King 0, Hunter Bayless 0.
— — —
Thomas Walker…15….9…..5…..3 —32
Cumb. Gap……….26…26…14…12 — 78
THOMAS WALKER (32): Zach Bailey 7, Cody Bryant 7, Justin Greer 6, Tyler Scott 4, Cody Carter 2, Matthew Glass 2, Dillon Overton 2, Thomas Warf 2, Nick Williams 0.
CUMBERLAND GAP (78): Nathan Hatmaker 15, Trevor Graves 14, Isaac Daneils 10, Blake Franklin 10, Matt Wade 8, Blake Arnold 6, Tyler Parker 6, Jordan King 5, Adam Jenkins 4, Hunter Bayless 0, Zach Wilhoit 0.