Happy Valley breaks out of doldrums by beating Devils

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   "Just like football" was the chant from Rosco's Rowdies on Tuesday night as Happy Valley shot down Unicoi County in a 58-49 final at Bayless Gym.
   The Warriors held off the Blue Devils in the final period by grabbing some key rebounds and hitting 11-of-15 free throws.
   "We're struggling and they are too. Neither one of us has real good shooters, but I thought we did a lot better at shooting than we have in the last 10 games," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless.
   Happy Valley jumped out to a 12-4 in the opening period, when the Warriors did an excellent job of penetrating, along with Bobby Morton hit two jumpers from 15 feet away.
   "I thought we did a lot better at penetrating with the ball, and the guards have to be able do that to make something happen," said Bayless.
   The Blue Devils responded with Michael Price, who knocked down three three-point goals to make it 17-15 in favor of the Warriors at the end of the first period.
   Unicoi County took a 21-17 lead to start the second quarter, after Chris Brown converted a couple of scores inside.
   The Warriors stormed back to go on an 8-0 run, when Alex Carroll came off the bench to give the Warriors a much needed boost on offense scoring down-low.
   "I got some good passes from Cody (Whitlock) and Andrew (Bowman). When I came off the cuts they both set me up well," said Carroll.
   A three-point goal by Stephen Williams with four seconds left in the half put the Warriors up 30-25 at the break.
   Unicoi County came out in the third quarter to take a three-point advantage in the final minutes, when Jonathan Grindstaff sank two free-throws off a foul inside.
   The Warriors reassumed the lead with under a minute to go, when Andrew Bowman hit a 12-foot jumper from outside.
   "We've been slowing the offense down and decided that wasn't working, so coach told us to run with it and we had some nice breaks and shots," said Bowman.
   Happy Valley led 39-36 heading into the final period, as they were looking for a much-needed win against one of their biggest rivals.
   The Warriors did a good job with free throws, as they scored 11 of their 19 points from the foul line.
   Unicoi County trailed by as many as 10 points in the final period, but was able to cut the deficit down to four in the closing minutes.
   Some key misses from the foul line hurt the Blue Devils' chances, as the Warriors continued to attack the basket.
   "We just never stepped up to the free throw line and knocked them down like we needed too It might of became tied and who knows what would happen then," said Unicoi County coach John English.
   A big rebound and basket from Tim Whaley off a missed free throw in the final minute was the icing on the cake on a much desired victory for the Warriors.
   Happy Valley was led by Whaley in scoring with 13 points, along with Bowman, who added 12 scores.
   Price led the Blue Devils with 16 points with 12 of them coming off of four three-point goals.
   "We got down early and then we would make a nice run, but we never really got into sink on offense all night long," said English.
   Unicoi County 56
   Happy Valley 40
   The Lady Warriors put up a good scrap with conference leader Unicoi County, but the Blue Devils were too strong down the stretch to take a 56-40 victory.
   Happy Valley cut a 14-point margin down to six in the final minute of the contest, but they were unable to convert on a field goal as it had to commit fouls became a factor.
   "It seemed like everytime we would battle back they made a play, a back door cut, or a big shot, and they grabbed the momentum as we never could completely take it away," said Lady Warrior coach Ben Godsey.
   The Warriors got off to a slow start in the first quarter, as they fell behind by as many as 10-point before trailing 13-6 at the end of the period.
   A basket plus the foul from Crystal Nave was all the offense from the Warriors, until Brandi Dugger hit three out of four from the free-throw line in the final minute of the period.
   The Warriors had trouble containing Candace Shelton, as she scored six points in the opening period and finished with 21 on the night.
   Happy Valley was gaining the momentum by cutting the Blue Devil lead down to three, but a backcourt violation and technical from the Warrior bench swayed the tide back to Unicoi County.
   The Blue Devils led at the half 28-18, but the Warriors were able to trim it down to six in the first few minutes as Dugger started taking charge by driving the ball inside.
   "We're still young but are getting better, and we still need to cut down on mistakes, but we did a better job at it tonight," said Godsey.
   Unicoi County responded with Shelton knocking down a couple of jumpers to take a 39-25 advantage heading into the final period.
   "I thought that Candace had some crucial baskets at crucial points in the game, and also had some rebounds and did a nice job defensively," said Lady Blue Devil coach Glen Fisher.
   Some good free-throw shooting and hustle from Happy Valley in the fourth cut the Blue Devil lead to 46-40 with a minute left in the game.
   "We knew coming in that they were a quick team and were going to play hard. We had a lot of pressure from the perimeter players," said Fisher.
   After having a dismal performance from the foul-line to start the quarter, Unicoi County was able to convert down the stretch to stay undefeated in conference play.