ROANOKE, Va. – The Cave Spring boys basketball season was one of a kind: no true home gym, bussing to and from practice and games, a district and region title, a state co-championship and now, a coach and player of the year in VHSL Class 3.
“He totally deserves that. He’s so different from any coach I’ve ever had. He works so hard for this program and he really does love us and the program as a whole,” said senior guard and Class 3 Player of the Year, Jalen Buster.
“Really cool but again, we’re not talking about Jacob Gruse. To me it’s not an individual award, to me its a staff and a team award,” Gruse said.
Buster played an integral role in the Knight’s offense, averaging 8.5 points and 7 assists per game.
“I think it’s incredible that the coaches in 3A basketball recognize the work that Jalen had on our team. The crazy thing is he’s a division one baseball signee at Radford University. Basketball is his thing to do during the winter until baseball season hits again,” said Gruse.
“My teammates were really supportive I’d say. Every day in practice they were working me. They know how to push me, I know how to push them. It was a great balance during practice and during games. I was very surprised when coach Gruse told me but I was very honored with that award,” said Buster.
Senior, Parker Huffman, and junior, Reed Pendleton were named second team all-state.
“Three of the sixteen guys make the all-state team from Cave Spring High School. Man, its a little bit overwhelming, exciting, it’s big for our program, big for our community. I’m just proud of our guys collectively,” Gruse said.
The Knights reached a record high of 27 wins this season, their final game being the VHSL Class 3 state championship that was cancelled due to COVID-19. Since then, school has been moved online, prom and graduation cancelled, but the last memory the seniors have of high school seems pretty sweet.
“The whole situation isn’t what we all planned for. But one day I’m going to tell my kids, my senior year was awful and everything got cancelled, but I won a state championship in basketball so that was a high note in my senior year,” said Buster.
“If the last thing you did was walk off the floor as a state champion, I mean that’s the best feeling in the world. Hopefully you can relish in that opportunity and hopefully that’s your lasting memory for you seniors in your high school career that you walked off as state champion, it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Gruse.