HV comeback shot down by SN's Minnick

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   KINGSPORT -- C.J. Minnick hit back-to-back treys breaking a 23-23 tie in the fourth quarter and lifting Sullivan North to a 34-26 Watauga Conference win over Happy Valley on Friday night.
   "We've been waiting on that all year from him," said North head coach John McCrary, whose team scored their first league win and sport a 3-7 overall mark. "I've even had to tell him, if he wasn't going to shoot him I was going to have to fire him.
   "It was important for us to get production out of someone other than just a couple of players. We know we have to get it from somebody else. We've been searching for that all year."
   For the Warriors, it was another tough pill to swallow in a season that now reads 1-4 in the league and 2-13 overall.
   "That number 30 hit those two three-pointers and that was crucial," said Happy Valley head coach Charlie Bayless. "We didn't want to go man-to-man, because I felt their big boy would kill us. Our zone defense was pretty good, but we couldn't match up to go man-to-man."
   The first period showed signs that Happy Valley might finally break a 10-game losing skid when Jordy Harrison went to the basket strong and was fouled on the first offensive possession. He converted on one of two free throws for the game's first point. After North scored the next six points, the Warriors reclaimed the lead right before the period ended, when Andrew Bowman sank a 16-foot jumper prior to the buzzer sounding.
   The Golden Radiers had little trouble getting back on top, as HV provided a lackluster offensive effort in the second quarter with no field goals and the only points coming off a pair of free throws by Bowman.
   Overall, the Warriors' first half numbers were emphasized by 3-of-13 shooting and a season-low nine points. While the Warrior offense was as cold as a popsicle, they were able to stay in the game by the Raiders only putting 18 first half points on the board.
   The tentative nature on the offensive end frustrated both benches, prompting McCrary to yell at his team: "Shoot it, dad gum, your hides," after seeing his players pass up a string of open shots.
   In the third quarter, Happy Valley finally got a spark in the form of Alex Carroll. Although he didn't come off the bench until late in the game, Carroll ended up the Warriors' leading scorer with nine points.
   "The big boy (Carroll) came in and played well," said Bayless. "He put us back in the ballgame. We might have to take him off the b-team. I need him to come in and play some ball for me."
   By the end of the third period, Happy Valley had worked their way back to striking distance, down only 23-19.
   Tim Whaley scored the first basket of the final quarter and Carroll added a tip-in to knot things up at 23-apiece. Then, Minnick shot down the Warrior rally hitting his consecutive three-point shots and adding a third one later on.
   "We came back in the third quarter," said HV senior point guard Cody Whitlock. "I came in at halftime and got everybody ready to go. We yelled at each other and came out hustling. After that, we lost it again and just couldn't come back from it.
   "Alex was a big boost for us. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have been in the game at all. We're finding out that we have a bunch of young players on the bench, who are able to help us out. We're been having people come in that don't normally play and they have been coming up big for us."
   Phillip Scarselone was the game's high scorer as his 10 points for North made him the only player to hit double figures. Minnick's last quarter heroics were good for nine points and Michael Buchanan added seven in the winning effort.
   Happy Valley got six from Whaley, four from Bowman, three from Jordy Harrison and a basket each from Bobby Morton and R.J. Haywood to complete their scoring.
   "We played pretty good defensively," said McCrary. "Offensively, we did just enough to win. It's just good to get a win. Our kids, outside of Michael and Phillip, are all rookies. The pace of the game affects them.
   "In practice, C.J. can come out here and shoot with anybody. But, he hasn't been comfortable and confident in the games to come out here and do what he's supposed to do. It just takes time to do that. There are no shortcuts. That is why coaches put such a premium on experience."
   The HV offense was prolifically better in a preceding junior varsity game with four players hitting double figures in a 71-54 win over the North JV squad. Chris Rutledge led the Warrior effort with 14 points, followed closely by Ricky Morgan with 13, John Bulla with 11 and Haywood with 10. Carroll barely missed being the fifth member of the double-digit club, equaling his varsity total of nine in the contest.
   Once again, the Warrior varsity will try to get over the disappointment of another tough loss when they return to action next Tuesday night, hosting archrival Unicoi County.