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Expectations riding high for Champs

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 11/15/22

Losing to Pearl Cohn in the region semifinals a season ago left the Cascade Champions with a bad taste in their mouth and they’re entering the 2022-2023 season with every intention to make it …

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Expectations riding high for Champs

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Losing to Pearl Cohn in the region semifinals a season ago left the Cascade Champions with a bad taste in their mouth and they’re entering the 2022-2023 season with every intention to make it back to that point of the postseason, and even further.
It’s easier said than done as Cascade’s region is filled with talented teams such as East Nashville, the reigning state champions, and Pearl Cohn, but head coach Chris Lawson is counting on his experienced squad to make it happen.
“There is no hesitation in any of our guys that the expectation is to get to the state tournament and have a shot,” Lawson said.
“Obviously, the region is tough with East Nashville and Pearl Cohn both returning starters, but our guys have worked really hard all offseason in the weight room, conditioning, and just in general preparing their bodies to get through this season. I don’t want to say it will be a disappointment if we don’t make the state tournament, but it’s definitely the expectation.”
Cascade lost only Justis Carter to graduation last season, but his production on both ends of the floor is sure to be missed as he led the team in points, rebounds, and blocks.
But Lawson is confident in his returning starters and bench players to step up and fill the void that Carter left.
“We learned this summer that we don’t have Justis to rely on like in the past,” he said.
“Not having his production now, some other guys that haven’t played main roles previously have stepped up and taken initiative to make plays. We’re definitely deeper than previous years.”
Having a deep roster filled with experienced seniors and promising underclassmen comes in handy towards the end of the regular season when district play starts to ramp up.
That’s exactly what the Champions have with six seniors at the top of their roster.
Lucas Clanton and Jackson Davis are entering their final season in the black and orange and their third year in Lawson’s starting lineup.
Rounding out the senior class are Thomas Gentry, Jayden Gulick, Jayden Little, Eli Elliot, and Jacob Curl.
And Lawson is hoping all of them can contribute to Cascade’s success.
“Lucas and Jackson were coming into their sophomore year when I came in two years ago, and they started for me that whole season. We had a pretty good year and made a good run,” he said.
“At times, I feel like I can sit back while they’re on the floor and trust that they’re going to do what I expect of them. If you look at our first five or six players that play, we can’t have any drop off after that with our seventh, eighth, and even ninth players. We need those guys to come in and not miss a beat, or to give us a spark.”
Continuity has been important for Lawson and the Champions coming into the new season with the experience they have and the understanding of what is expected of them.
Schemes and play styles change on a year-to-year basis for most teams, and while Lawson has made some minor additions, he is keeping the basics of his game plan the same.
“Year-to-year most coaches will change some things, and we have added some things, but I’ve kept the core of our basic concepts that we’ve run for the past couple years,” he said.
“They understand it and know how to play together within our basic offense. That will be big for us.”
The Champions are set to begin their season on Tuesday on the road against Hampshire High School following the girl’s game.

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