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Stone defense proves to be too much for CCHS

Jan. 25—Neil Capps, the head basketball coach at Stone Memorial, is a staunch believer in the power of defense. He drills his team each and every day in practice.

Capps believes defense is the foundation every program should be built on.

The Panthers proved Capps' point to be true Tuesday when Stone Memorial pressured rival Cumberland County and capitalized on some miscues to grab a big 49-26 victory.

"I thought defensively we played really well. We held them to 26 points," coach Capps said. "I liked the way we were talking, the way we were communicating. We haven't played in 11 days and you're always going to have some rusty times coming out of the break like that. However, effort and defense is always something you can bring each and every game."

"I thought we competed really hard and we defended pretty well," said Cumberland Coach Taylor Denney.

"Any time you hold a team like that under 50 points, you've defended pretty well. Our offense didn't help us out much. We had some turnovers that led directly to points for them.."

The win moves Stone Memorial to 13-7 overall and 3-1 in Class 3A, District 7 play. Cumberland County falls to 2-13 on the year and 0-4.

Stone Memorial came out of the box shooting well, and the Panthers raced to a 12-0 advantage. Cumberland got on the board on a jumper by Ethan Dixon, but Stone moved forward and led 18-6 after the first period.

The Panthers picked up the pace in the second period, with baskets from Cade Capps and Preston Mayberry. That burst helped Stone widened its advantage and lead 27-10 going into the intermission.

"Any time you get out to a big start, it is good for you because it calms your guys down," coach Capps said. "Playing this game, here in this environment is difficult. We're glad we were able to see the ball go in the basket early."

"Stone Memorial defended really well," Denney said. "We had to tweak some things because of some personnel we were missing and that made it hard on us. But we didn't do anything to help ourselves on the offensive end of the floor."

Things didn't get much better for the Jets in the second half. Stone outscored Cumberland County 12-7 in the third period to take a 39-17 lead into the final eight minutes of play.

Cade Capps led Stone Memorial in scoring with 26 points. Mayberry scored 12 and Brady Lane tallied 8. Jayden Eldridge chipped in with 3 points.

Houston Torres led Cumberland County with 11 points on the night. Dixon had 9, while Nolen Carter scored 4 and Isaac Scarbrough tallied for 2.

Torres, one of the premiere rookies in the third region was on Stone's radar the entire night.

"We had multiple guys on him. We started with Preston Mayberry and he did a good job," coach Capps said. "We put Wyatt Grothe on him and he did a nice job, too. We even brought Spencer Bowman off the bench to guard Torres and he did a good job, too.

"We knew we were going to have to stay close to him because if he gets clean looks, he's going to knock them down. Torres is a good player and he's got a bright future. We knew if we let him loose, he was going to hit shots and he had the capability to keep them in it."

The schedule doesn't get any easier either team.

Stone Memorial visits Upperman Jan. 26, DeKalb County on Jan. 27 before hosting White County on Jan. 30. Cumberland County will play at Livingston Academy on the 26th and host DeKalb County on the 30th.

"We take one game at a time," coach Capps said. "Upperman is really good and it is going to be a challenge for us, especially playing them at their place. We beat them at our place, so they're going to be waiting for us. We're going to have to be ready."

"I think we can build on our defensive effort and our overall intensity from the other night," Denney said. "I think we have six league games left, so we want to keep getting better so that we're at our best spot when the postseason begins."