Warriors rally past 'Dogs

By Jeff Birchfield

   "It's the biggest win of the season," stated Happy Valley head basketball coach Charlie Bayless after his Warriors came from behind to beat Hampton 55-54 in a key Watauga Conference matchup Friday night in Bayless Gymnasium.
   Down 41-34 at the end of three quarters, HV went on a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter and rally past the visiting Bulldogs.
   Jason Tittle was the player who finally put the Warriors ahead 45-44 nailing a crucial three-pointer with a little more than three minutes left. "I just threw it up there and hoped it went in," said the senior guard. "I wasn't too good on them the rest of the game, but God wanted this one to go in.
   "It's extremely satisfying to beat Hampton. All the boys are happy. It's the biggest win of the season. Our offense is coming together and we're moving the ball and playing as a team. All around, we are playing better."
   The game also marked the return of Chris Campbell, absent from the last two contests by a suspension. "It's good to be back," said Campbell, who finished with a game-high nineteen points including a trio of treys. "I was glad to hit some shots down the stretch. After I missed a couple of earlier shots, I was worried. We all just hung in there and played hard."
   One person not happy to see Campbell's triumphant return to the HV lineup was opposing coach Jerry White of Hampton. "We just blew it," said White. "We didn't play very good defense. We let Campbell shoot open. We were supposed to have a man on him and we didn't. We let him shoot open and he hit them.
   "We said during the timeout to be cheating toward him and we still didn't do it. I guess we started watching the ballgame instead of playing it."
   Before Campbell had the opportunity to beat the Bulldogs as coach White suggested, he had to sit on the bench for the entire first quarter. "After he missed a couple of games, I didn't start him back," said Bayless. "A lot of times a senior will pout, but he came in there and played real good ball."
   Chris wasn't the only Campbell putting points on the board. Matthew Campbell ended up as Hampton's leading scorer with 15 points and leading rebounder with 11 boards.
   "We played hard and everything," said Campbell. "We had the lead, but we just didn't play smart down the stretch. Coach kept telling us who was beating us and he kept hitting threes. Three times in a row, he kept scoring.
   "Then, we weren't a bit smart on offense. It's tough to lose, especially the way you get up for the Happy Valley game. When you get a lead, you expect to keep it. We lost our tempo in the second half and they played a lot smarter than us."
   Hampton led by as much as 11 points on three occasions. They took a 28-17 lead into the halftime locker room before the HV second half rally.
   Down the stretch, Tittle's trey was followed by a inside bank shot by Tim Whaley. Hampton stormed back behind Campbell and two Zack Ensor free throws to retake the lead at 48-47.
   Happy Valley then grabbed the lead by via a Campbell jumper and a pair of free throws. Cody Cannon looked to ice the game with 38 seconds left making one of two shots at the charity stripe.
   Kevin Harrison tried bringing the Bulldogs back with a jumper and a trey to cut the lead to 55-54. Happy Valley successfully ended the game when Whaley raced past Hampton's press and caught the inbound pass as the horn sounded.
   Lamar Rollins had 11 points and 6 rebounds for HV, while Whaley contributed 10. Ryan Deskins and Jeremy Hall each scored 13 for the Bulldogs, with Harrison adding nine.
   Coach White admitted Hampton at 5-3 in the Watauga Conference and 11-9 overall can ill afford to lose any more league games if they have plans of staying near the top of the standings. "We did OK rebounding tonight," said White. "But, we didn't do a good job running our offense in the fourth quarter. Most of our games we have played at home, but we haven't won one on the road yet. We have to win some on the road to stay in the upper bracket."
   For Happy Valley, they improved to 3-5 in the conference and 5-9 overall. After starting the season 0-4, they are 5-5 in their last 10 ballgames. "Seven mistakes is all we had," commented Bayless about the team's lack of turnovers. "That was great. I thought the Tittle boy played hard and Cody Cannon played well. Cody Whitlock does a heckuva job at guard. The bench has really come out and helped me with Adam Smith and the (Andrew) Bowman kid.
   "Jerry had some boys hurt and that makes a difference. In a small school if you have one or two hurt, it hurts you."
   Next up for the Warriors is a trip Tuesday night to Johnson County, with whom they have split two previous meetings this season. That same night Hampton will look to secure a home win against the Raiders of Sullivan North.