Edwards and assistant coaches Derrick Akal and Greg Creech have preached a positive message, and bringing up the Trojans makes that difficult with Cawood's 11-year, 28-game win streak over the Skins stretching back to 1996.
“We always tell them this is 2007, and what happened in the past happened in the past,” Edwards said. “It's a different season, different ballclub. It's over.”
It was indeed over, as of around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, as the visiting Redskins took Cawood's best shot and held on for a 58-56 win as senior guard Kyle Simpson hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds left.
“We took their punches early and we never quit. Our intensity might have been a little low at the beginning, but we picked it up and were able to maintain it,” Edwards said.
Edwards admits the win was an important step for the Redskins, who are now 9-2 and clearly the 13th Region's most improved team.
“It was always a thorn in our side. It was one of those things we had to have,” Edwards said of beating the Trojans.
The Trojans have played much better of late after a slow start and put together their most complete game against the Redskins.
“Cawood played hard. They didn't give it to us. We had to fight and tussle for everything we've got,” Edwards said. “Anthony coaches his team, and they don't give up.”
“I'm proud of the effort and execution all night,” said Cawood coach Anthony Nolan, who started his career as the Trojans' coach in the 1996-97 season and had never lost to the Redskins. “We went through a couple of stretches where we got away from the things that we working, but we've come so far in a month and have another month and a half to progress.”
Cawood (6-9) came out hot early and never trailed in the first half. Junior guard Adam Rhymer, who led the Trojans with 14 points, hit two technical free throws to start the game because Cumberland center Desmond Johnson was penalized for dunking in warmups. Rhymer, Brad Howard and B.J. Nolan each had two baskets in the first quarter as Cawood built a 19-13 advantage.
Five straight points by sophomore center Josh Caldwell, who finished with 13 points, helped Cawood move back out to a six-point lead in the second quarter after Brock Leisge and Brooks Hogue opened the period with baskets to cut the lead to one.
Hogue, who led Cumberland with 20 points, kept the Skins within striking distance in the first half with five baskets as the Trojans did a good job on Simpson and Johnson with their zone.
“Brooks carried us the first half,” Edwards said. “He was the offense, defense, everything.”
Cawood led by two at halftime and quickly pushed the advantage to six in the third quarter as Caldwell twice found Nolan open for layups after being double-teamed.
The Redskins turned the momentum quickly as Hogue started a 12-0 run with a three-point play. Sophomore guard Zach Blanton, starting in place of Michael Washington due to “disciplinary reasons” hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Cumberland took its first lead.
“He came through for us. Zach stepped up to the plate and hit some big shots,” Edwards said.
Simpson, who finished with 14 points, also added a trey as Cumberland pushed its lead to six, at 42-36, with 4:49 left. The Skins maintained a six-point advantage going into the fourth quarter.
The lead grew to eight early in the final period, but Cawood refused to go away as Rhymer and Mikey Hensley sparked a 7-0 run.
A basket and two free throws by Kyle Hatfield put the Trojans back on top with 5:13 left. Simpson answered for the Redskins, then Cawood's hit Ryan Farmer hit one of two at the line with 3:54 left to tie the game at 56-56.
“When they hit a couple of deep shots and got the lead, we got hesitant and afraid to attack the pressure, but we refocused and got back with the gameplan,” Nolan said.
Both teams had opportunities to take the lead. After a Hogue miss, Cawood ran almost a minute off the clock before calling a timeout with 22.7 seconds left.
Howard drove inside and drew a foul with 15.2 seconds remaining, but he missed a bonus situation, and Cumberland regained possession.
Simpson drew a foul and calmly hit both shots after a Cawood timeout. Rhymer's heave from past halfcourt was well off the mark as time expired.
“That's what you expect from your senior,” Edwards said. “You expect them to step up and knock down shots when they're supposed to.”
Both teams return to action Tuesday as Cumberland plays host to Middlesboro and Cawood travels to Evarts.
Brock Leisge 3-7 0-0 7, Zach Blanton 3-5 0-0 8, Kyle Simpson 5-13 2-3 14, Brooks Hogue 7-16 6-8 20, Desmond Johnson 3-9 0-0 6, Michael Washington 1-1 1-2 3, Blake Polson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-52 9-13 58.
Ryan Farmer 0-2 1-5 1, Adam Rhymer 6-11 2-2 14, Kyle Hatfield 2-6 2-2 6, B.J. Nolan 4-5 0-0 8, Josh Caldwell 5-12 3-3 13, Mikey Hensley 2-6 3-3 7, Brad Howard 3-5 1-3 7, Gary Lee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-48 12-18 56.
Cumberland 13 17 20 8 - 58
Cawood 19 13 12 12 - 56
3-point goals: Cumberland 5-15 (Blanton 2-3, Simpson 2-9, Leisge 1-3), Cawood 0-6 (Farmer 0-1, Hatfield 0-1, Hensley 0-1, Lee 0-1, Rhymer 0-2). Rebounds: Cumberland 23 (Hogue 9), Cawood 30 (Hensley 11). Turnovers: Cumberland 12, Cawood 15. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: Cumberland (Johnson).