Hampton defeated by Central

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   BLOUNTVILLE -- The Hampton Bulldogs fell victim to conference rival Sullivan Central on Tuesday night, as the Cougars clawed their way to an 81-61 final at Cougar Cage.
   "We took some bad shots, missed layups and some free-throws," said Hampton coach Jerry White. "So when you do that teams are going to get back with you."
   Hampton started the contest by jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the first few minutes of play.
   Their first score came when Kevin Harrison, after receiving a pass down low from Jeremy Hall, made a shot off the glass.
   Matthew Campbell connected on a couple of baskets from the field, while Ryan Deskins made the deuce inside to give the Bulldogs the early advantage.
   "It has been our game in moving the ball up and down the floor, but we didn't do a good job at it tonight except early in the ballgame," said White.
   Back to back three-point goals from Matt Hobbs gave some spark to the Central ballclub, as the Cougars tried to slow down Hampton's early dominance.
   Harrison pushed the Bulldog lead to nine with 2:00 left in the period, looking as if Hampton was on its way to obtaining the victory.
   But in the final minutes the Cougars regained their composure, and scored the last eight points of the quarter -- all coming from the free-throw line making it a 15-14 game.
   Sullivan Central grabbed their first lead in the second period with a three-point shot from Chris Martin.
   The Bulldogs didn't score the first couple of minutes of the period, allowing the Cougars to acquire an eight-point advantage.
   Zack Ensor answered the drought with score from beyond the arch, ending a 17-0 run that dated back to the first period of play.
   Central continued to outhustle the Bulldogs throughout the second to build a 13-point lead at halftime 46-33.
   Hampton didn't have that much success in the second half either, as the Cougars seemed to be a little bit quicker.
   "We didn't play defense well at all tonight, and they got some offensive rebounds that I thought killed us," said White.
   Despite a 10-point performance by Deskins in the third, the Bulldogs couldn't quite make the run that was needed to get themselves back in the contest.
   Deskins led Hampton in scoring with 21 on the night, while Campbell finished with 13.
   The Cougars managed to build onto their margin in the final period with John Leseur leading the way.
   Leseur ended the night by being game-high scorer with 23, while teammate Zach Frye dropped in 15, assisting Central to the .500 mark in conference play.
   "We didn't recognize when they change their defenses and their press didn't hurt us, but it got our offense out of rhythm," said White.
   Lady Cougars 61
   Lady Bulldogs 51
   The Sullivan Central Lady Cougars captured first place in the Watauga Conference with a win over Hampton.
   "I thought we had a complete game tonight with the exception of rebounding. They beat us on the boards," said Sullivan Central coach Gary Surcey.
   The Cougars jumped out to an 11-8 lead after the first quarter of play with the inside post position becoming a factor for Central.
   "I thought Lauren Burke and Lindsey McGrady sealed well, and Ashley Masoner did an excellent job of getting the ball," said Surcey.
   Burke and McGrady combined for 28 of the Cougars' points, while Kristy Moody finished as their top scorer with 17.
   The Bulldogs accumulated some key rebounds from Amanda Finney, as both she and Kari Stout paced Hampton with 17 points apiece.
   Hampton was unable to make a run in the first half, with the Cougars responding down low every time the Bulldogs threatened.
   Hampton trailed 28-21 at halftime, after going 0-of-7 from three-point land, and finishing just 3-of-24 on the night.
   "We couldn't make one from the inside or outside, and we didn't play defense," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell. "We got lost."
   Joy Gardner knocked down two treys for the Bulldogs, while Stout hit the only other one made.
   The third period ended on a sour note for Hampton, as McGrady hit the turn around inside the paint with the buzzer sounding, making it 47-35 in favor of the Cougars.
   The Bulldogs cut the lead down to eight with a minute to go, but this was as close as it came with Hampton trailing the entire game.
   "We just got outhustled tonight, and that's the bottom line," said Campbell.