Happy Valley tops North for first conference win

By Jeff Birchfield

   Happy Valley took their first 2002 Watauga Conference win and scored the first home win of the season turning back Sullivan North 54-50 Tuesday night at Bayless Gymnasium.
   "I was wondering if we were going to win a conference game," joked legendary Warrior coach Charlie Bayless. "That was a good win for us. I thought we played a little better game tonight than we did our last game down at Volunteer.
   "I thought we did good getting the ball down the floor against the press. We moved the ball a little better tonight. Our guards penetrated and we got on the boards pretty good. They (the Raiders) are about our size, so we match up with them pretty equal."
   The win did not come without a cost as star player Chris Campbell scored 24 points and grabbed 8 boards, but will have to set out the Warriors' next ballgame as a result of a late game confrontation with North's Josh Arnold.
   Arnold, the Raiders' leading scorer with 19 points, did an intentional foul late in the game with a forearm to the back of Campbell's head. After Arnold shouted an obscenity at the Warrior forward, Campbell retaliated raising his forearm into Arnold's chest.
   Although the situation stopped before punches were thrown, both players were ejected from the game and will be forced to set out each of their teams next games.
   Happy Valley (1-4, 3-8) looked to have the game all wrapped up mid-way through the fourth quarter after Tim Whaley made a short bank shot to put the Tribe ahead 49-34. North (2-3, 6-8) stormed back cutting the game to four on 13-2 run capped off by a bucket by Phillip Scarselone.
   Scareslone had a big night for the Golden Raiders with 15 points and 7 rebounds despite being double-teamed for most of the second half.
   Campbell responded with a couple of free throws, before Lamar Rollins pushed the lead back to seven for the Tribe via four more charity shots. The Raiders' Lance Carter made a final strike for three, before the Warriors finalized the victory.
   Rollins was key for the Warriors going 10-for-13 from the foul line and pumping in 18 points. "We have been struggling all year," said Rollins. "We're doing all we can to make this a better year than last year. We were switching the ball good and we found the open people tonight and they made shots."
   Rollins, himself, was the open person on one of the biggest plays. Racing past the Raider defense, Rollins found himself on the receiving end of a full-court pass for an easy lay-up. "They was playing up on us and I got a little screen from Chris," said Rollins about the 'snowbird' play. "I just took off and they got beat."
   Veteran North coach John McCrary was frustrated with his team's inability to stop the Warriors. "Happy Valley makes you play their tempo," said McCrary. "We changed things at halftime, but apparently nobody paid attention. Our kids didn't do what they were supposed to do.
   "Old Charlie does a great job controlling the tempo and when we don't play smart, we don't have a chance. Happy Valley pitter-pattered us to death and then we have to get schitzophrenic to get anything done."
   Happy Valley hopes to keep driving their opponents crazy Friday night when they travel to Erwin to battle old nemesis Unicoi County.
   Lady Golden Raiders 53
   Lady Warriors 48
   After trailing most of the first half, North fought back in the second half to gain a key Watauga Conference win over the Lady Warriors.
   "This is a tough place to win on the road," said North head coach Bill Armstrong. "The basketballl tradition is really strong here and I'm real pleased to get out of here with a win. If we could have hit our free throws better, it would have been a pretty comfortable game.
   "We outrebounded them 29 to 17, which helped. From the second quarter on, we did a pretty good job. I knew it would be a tough game. We ran a four high series to get the ball in Kim Doran's hands and she did a good job."
   Doran running the offensive four-high set at the point guard position allowed North to get some easy baskets off backdoor cuts. Those short-range baskets proved crucial to the final outcome.
   "Winning on the road in this league helps get you out of those bottom two slots," remarked Armstrong. "We get our point guard Kim Jessee back in a few days and I think we can become a good basketball team over the next couple of weeks."
   HV head coach Ben Godsey commented, "We had a rough night shooting. We only shot 14-of-64 from the floor. That won't win you too many ballgames. We played good the first quarter, but didn't have what it took tonight to win."
   Happy Valley did own a 20-15 lead at the end of the first period, as Mandy Byrd found the bottom of the net right before the buzzer sounded. The Lady Warriors stretched the lead out to seven in the second quarter, before North scored eight straight to end the half. A basket by Hughes gave the Raiders a 32-30 halftime advantage.
   The squads had a nip and tuck battle throughout the third, before Courtney Ramey helped North finally take control. Leading by two, less than two minutes left in the game, Ramey sank a couple of free throws and Kristin Hughes kissed a bank shot off the glass to give the Lady Raiders a six-point advantage.
   HV's Whitney Crowe made a free throw to close the lead to five, but it was simply too little, too late.
   Lindsay Collins was the Lady Raiders leading scorer with 12 points, while Doran and Ramey each added 11.
   Brandi Dugger with 11 and Kandra Roberts with 10 were double-digit scorers for the Lady Warriors. Terra Whaley provided tough inside play with six rebounds and Brandi Morgan pulled down five boards.
   HV found another bright spot at the free throw line where they converted their first 14 shots and hit 19-of-22 for the contest.
   "We shot the ball at the line real well tonight," stated Godsey. "That kept us in the game. We're just going to have to keep plugging away and try to get better. I know our girls will keep their heads up and keep trying."
   North improves to 1-4 in the Watauga Conference and 3-10 overall with the win. The Lady Warriors fall to 1-4 in league play and 3-10 overall before visiting Erwin Friday night to tangle with conference leading Unicoi County.