Happy Valley boys lose close contest to Falcons

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   Happy Valley came into Tuesday night's basketball game against Volunteer looking to snap an eight-game losing streak. Those plans stalled in the fourth quarter as the Warriors fell to 2-12 after a 38-36 loss to the Falcons.
   Down by four starting the final quarter, HV looked to bait the Falcons out of their zone defense using their patented Warrior stall. However, the boys from Church Hill were not about to have any part of it.
   "If we have the lead there is no reason for them to come out of the zone," said Volunteer head coach Todd Whittimore. "If they want to slow it down that's fine, but as long as we have the lead, we just have to get the stops. Down the stretch we got a great team effort and we got a great team win."
   Happy Valley came into the game with an emphasis on making good passes and few mistakes. The strategy worked for the most part of three quarters with the Warriors leading 10-7 at the end of one quarter and 19-18 at the half.
   They expanded the lead to 25-20 on a Jordy Harrison basket, before Chucky Lindholm scored on three straight possessions to tie things up at 25-apiece. Despite jumpers by Andrew Bowman and Ryan Toney, the Falcons had taken a 33-29 lead heading into the final quarter.
   That's when the Warriors decided to run the delay game, taking four minutes off the clock.
   "They scored six points just like that," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless. "Slowing it down isn't pretty to watch. I know the people in the stands don't like to watch it, but that was the caliber of ball we've had to play. We've made too many mistakes. We didn't turn it over tonight like we have, but we can't run the ball.
   After they did head toward the basket, Warriors finally cut the lead to two on a pair of free throws by Bowman. Andrew Nelms put Volunteer back up by four, sinking a couple of foul shots himself, before Whaley launched a 3-point shot to make the score 35-34. After going to the line twice more, Volunteer put the game away on free throws by Nelms and Marcus Bellamy.
   Whaley scored with three seconds left on the clock, but the Falcons declined to inbound the ball, letting the clock expire. Despite the outcome, Whaley's efforts were outstanding, having game-highs with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
   "We've been in a big slump this year," remarked Whaley. "I haven't been on the boards as good as I was last year. We're not doing very good and we need to pick it up. We can't play not to lose. We have to get out there and play as hard as we can to make things happen. We played hard tonight, we just lost."
   Added Whaley about the emphasis on moving the ball better, "We've been working on getting our passes crisper. We looked at tapes from last year and saw how crisp those passes were. It helped us out a lot. It makes the ball a lot harder to steal when you make the passes like we were making tonight.
   It's hard to make cross court passes against the guys 6-7 and 6-8, but it's hard for them to get to it, if we throw those good crisp passes."
   For Volunteer (14-6), it was a great road win after losing the past two seasons a top Warrior Hill in close games. Lindholm led the way for Volunteer with 15 points, while Nelms added seven and Bellamy six.
   "We got fortunate having a lead going into the final minutes," said Whittimore. "Coach Bayless is going to make you work for it. That's what we wanted. We knew we had to settle in with the half-court defense. We were lucky enough to get some stops and big rebounds, and we hit our free throws. Hats off to our kids. They stuck to the gameplan, when they could have gotten frustrated."