Lady Warriors' defense  'Pierced' by Lady 'Dogs

By Jeff Birchfield

   Serving early notice by scoring the first basket of the game and eight points in the first quarter, Alison Pierce led Hampton's Lady Bulldogs to a 50-39 win over Happy Valley Friday night atop Warrior Hill.
   "The first quarter I came out and hit everything," said Pierce, who ended with a team high 15 points. "I kind of slacked off after that. It's easy when the offense is all moving and all working together. Sometimes, we lapse off and quit moving, but the first quarter was great."
   She helped the Lady 'Dogs gain an early advantage with a 16-9 lead after one quarter and a 30-23 lead at the half. Hampton would hold a lead throughout the ballgame, despite a gallant effort to wrestle it away by the girls in Maroon and White.
   The Lady Warriors got most of their point production from guards Brandi Dugger and Kandra Roberts, who scored 30 of the team's 39 points. Dugger found success going to the basket with a quick backdoor cut that aided in her 17 points.
   "We overloaded one side and just tossed it over the top," explained HV head coach Ben Godsey. "She was wide-open and got a couple of drops in there and a couple of jump shots. That was working for us pretty well.
   "We battled and competed out there. Even though we haven't had a win in a while, I'm not discouraged. I don't think our team is discouraged. I think we will come out with another hard practice on Monday and try to get a win on Tuesday."
   Happy Valley played the favored Lady Bulldogs close throughout, having the chance to tie the game late in the third quarter when a Roberts shot rimmed out. After Hampton's Amanda Finney and Dugger traded baskets, Pierce gave Hampton a 40-35 cushion with an important three-pointer.
   "I was just trying to make something happen," said Pierce. "We all just try to work together and create something. We expected Happy Valley to come out and play hard, but we were up for it."
   The fourth period was a great defensive effort by Hampton, who outscored the Lady Warriors 10-2 in the final eight minutes. "There at the end we started rebounding a lot better," said Pierce. "That's been one of our biggest weaknesses. In the end, we were coming at them fast. We gave them one-shot opportunities. This win allows us to stay in the conference race."
   Three-point shots by Joy Gardner and Kari Stout put the final daggers in the hearts of the HV efforts. Stout finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs, Finney netted eight and Gardner scored seven.
   Terra Whaley's seven rebounds helped Happy Valley maintain a slight 31-27 advantage over Hampton on the glass.
   "We should be proud of our effort," said Godsey, whose team fell to 1-7 in the Watauga Conference and 3-13 overall. "I was proud of our hustle and our spirit over there on the sidelines. It was tough playing Unicoi County, Sullivan Central and Hampton in a row with two of those on the road. It's a tough road to follow, but we battled all three of those games.
   "We got several good looks in the fourth quarter, but the shots didn't fall for us, so what do you do? I felt like we were calm offensively, the shots just didn't fall."
   Coach Leslie Campbell's Lady Bulldogs now improve to 6-2 in league play and 11-7 overall before hosting Sullivan North on Tuesday night.