CASHMERE — The top-ranked Cashmere boys basketball team has presented its opponents with a variety of match-up problems this season because it has a multitude of players that are capable of scoring in many different ways.
The Bulldogs put their diversified, multi-layered offensive attack on full display Friday against No. 8 Okanogan in a showdown contest between the two best teams in the Caribou Trail League at Ron Doane Gymnasium. Cashmere was able to post a resounding 70-51 victory primarily on the basis of its depth — Okanogan simply couldn’t shut down all of Cashmere’s scoring options. Three Cashmere players scored in double figures — led by Cooper Elliott’s 18 — and one other (Coleman McElroy) just missed with nine points.
“That’s what’s great about this team,” said Cashmere coach Keith Boyd. “You never know where the points are coming from, so you have to guard everyone. If you don’t, we can make shots.”
Sophomore guard Dylan Boyd (14 points) had his stroke going early on, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Cashmere took a 23-19 lead. After the hosts took a 33-24 lead into halftime, Trenton Johnson (17 points) scored seven straight points on two layups and a trey with just under four minutes left in the third period. McElroy, who led Cashmere with eight rebounds, was the team’s inside presence — he scored five straight points to close out the third quarter with a putback, a spinning layup and a free throw to give Cashmere an insurmountable 47-39 lead.
Throughout the contest, Elliott showed off an impressive arsenal of offensive moves — he was able to score via transition layups, putbacks and short and long jumpers, and he did it all while holding Joe Townsend, Okanogan’s leading scorer, to just 15 points.
“If one person isn’t having a good night, somebody else is going to step up,” Elliott said, “and that’s what we have to have if we want to go far. Everbody on this team is willing to step up, and I’m glad that’s the case.”
It’s clear that Cashmere prefers to push the tempo on both ends of the floor and use its pressure defense to generate fast-break opportunities on the other end, and it was able to do that with precision Friday — Cashmere had just six turnovers and passed the ball well all night. Dylan Boyd proved to be particularly adept at finding holes in Okanogan’s zone defense and led Cashmere with eight assists.
“We played with intensity, but I was pleased that we played under control,” Keith Boyd said. “We had over 20 assists as a team, and that’s the sign of a bunch of kids that have been playing together for a while and are willing to make the extra pass.”
Cashmere and Okanogan are now tied at the top of the CTL with identical 7-1 records. While Boyd and Okanogan coach Mike Carlquist would like to win the league title, their more immediate focus is on clinching a top-two spot in order to host a district playoff game.
In addition, both coaches know that there’s a distinct possibility that a rubber match (Okanogan edged Cashmere earlier this month) could very well happen in postseason play.
“We didn’t take care of the ball and took bad shots,” Carlquist said. “Cashmere was the better team tonight. They played with energy and aggression, and we didn’t. We never got into any kind of rhythm on offense or defense. We’ll have to get better for next week and try to regroup.”