HUDSON, NC (By Colt Jensen of CCC&TI – November 9, 2017)…In their first home game of the season, the Caldwell Tech Cobras (2-1) were able to secure a thrilling 104-103 victory over the neighboring Catawba Valley Community College Red Hawks (CVCC) (1-2).
After starting the season with a difficult weekend road trip, the Cobras were anxious to return to their home court.
“At home there’s a sense of urgency, a sense that you have to win.” guard Jeremiah Phifer said. “You can’t let another team come into your house and win. Plus, it’s a gym that I practice in everyday, so I’m more comfortable playing in it.”
This was no ordinary season opening home game. This was a home opener that featured two teams whose campuses are separated by a less than a 30 minute drive.
“We definitely have a good rivalry.” head coach Matt Anderson said. “Coach Garmroth (head coach of CVCC) does a great job having his team ready to play, and we always know it’s going to be a war when we play them.”
While it didn’t quite escalate to war, it was certainly the best basketball battle of the season, and both teams waged impressive offensive campaigns.
However, despite the offensive and high scoring nature of the game, neither team was able to pull away or gain a significant advantage. At the half the Cobras held a slim 47-45 lead, and the largest lead for either team was eight points. In fact, going into the last 10 seconds of game the game was tied at 103.
It was in those final seconds that Hickory native Caron Corpening hit the biggest shot of his young college career. With just a tick under five seconds to go Corpening drove to the basket, and drew a foul that resulted in two free throws.
The pressure started to mount as Corpening went to the line for his two shots, and that pressure got even more intense after he missed his first free throw attempt. However, that pressure wasn’t enough to keep Corpening from draining his second free throw. That second free throw put the Cobras up 104-103.
After the go ahead free throw, CVCC tried to get off a last second shot to win the game, but that plan was derailed when Tyrell Oglesby, the Red Hawks leading scorer, lost control of the ball just before time expired.
Corpening credited his teammates with putting in position to make the final shot.
“Tonight I focused on making my teammates better.” guard Caron Corpening said. “I try to get my guys in the right spot and find a flow for myself within the offense. My guys did a great job in the second half knocking down shots, which eventually left me with good shots and scoring opportunities.”
Corpening’s last second shot was one of many impressive performances for the Cobras.
Trevor Willis continued his impressive start to the season by yet again leading the Cobras in scoring with 18 points. Willis hit five three point shots, and all three of his free throws to help keep his team within striking distance.
Guard Jaylon Wray also had an impressive game as he scored 12 points, had eight assists, and six rebounds. Willis and Wray led five Cobras who scored in double figures.
This was the first of two games between CVCC and Caldwell Tech, or what should rightly be called “The Battle of 321”. The Redhawks will get their chance for revenge on November 21st when Caldwell Tech visits the CVCC campus for game two of their season series.
However before the rivalry rematch, the Caldwell Cobras have to focus on their two games this weekend, and on their own home tournament, the “Chick-Fil-A Caldwell Classic” which will take place on November 17th and 18th on the Caldwell Tech campus.
Photos: used with permission from Cody Dalton/CSD Photography