'Landers thwart Rebels

By Wes Holtsclaw

   Anytime you have Cloudland and South Greene face off in any sport, you know it's going to be a hard fought contest and Thursday's night's contest was no exception.
   Ahead by 10 going into the second half, the Highlanders were on a roll against the Rebels. However, South Greene fought hard down the wire cutting in on the 'Landers.
   But Cloudland maintained its composure until the end and escaped Smith Gymnasium with a 52-49 victory.
   "The kids came out and played real well," said 'Lander coach Ned Smith. "We shot the ball well in the first half and came up with some loose ones on defense. South Greene came out and shot the ball well in the second half, while we came out flat. They are a good, quick team and they played us tough."
   "We came out flat in the first half," said South Greene head coach Terry Hoese. "They kept it slowed down and I didn't expect that. I expected (Mark) Byrd to drive it inside to their big boys, but they got a lot from the three point line.
   "We were down by 10 and had to fight back. It was too much for us, but we came back hard and I'm proud of our guys. Cloudland's got a good team."
   Cloudland hit 10 of 15 three-point buckets, which made a big difference in the outcome of the contest.
   "They packed it inside on us," Smith said. "Craig (Cooke), Josh (Johnson) and Mark (Byrd) made big shots. We shot it well outside tonight."
   Cloudland got on a strong run to open the game behind the outside shooting from Johnson, Byrd and Cooke. However, Tyler Sauceman made some solid shots for the Rebels.
   A pair of buckets inside from Robbie Tolley gave the 'Landers a 16-11 advantage going into the second quarter.
   The Highlanders continued their string of outside shots as they manipulated the South Greene defense to open up the gaps.
   A pair of big treys from Cody Caraway pulled the Rebels within striking distance, but the 'Landers were too much, stretching out a 10-point lead.
   "Being down by 10 is tough," said Tyler Sauceman. "We finally got our offense going and never let up. We just couldn't connect, but it's never easy to come back."
   South Greene came out faster than a bottle rocket in the second half on a big nine-point run behind Sauceman and Bruce Wright, pulling them within one.
   Johnson and Byrd came up with some big plays despite the Rebel run and sealed a six-point lead going into the final frame.
   Caraway and Dave Carpenter paced South Greene within two again as the battle went back and forth. Aaron Stocton and Robbie Tolley had big buckets inside for the 'Landers, but the maroon and silver kept within striking distance.
   Wright and James Rush kept South Greene honest, but two straight steals of Byrd's seven in the game helped Cloudland lasso a four-point lead down the final stretch.
   Sauceman hit two big free throws to cut the 'Lander lead at two with 47 seconds left in the game, adding to the Rebel momentum when Cole Gouge missed a one-and-one shot allowing another South Greene posession with 30 seconds left.
   South Greene got the ball and missed some crucial buckets when Bruce Wright made a bucket. But as ESPN's Lee Corso would say: "Not so fast my friend."
   Sauceman was charged with a foul and Stocton was sent to the line for Cloudland. He missed both shots, but picked up the rebound and was hacked again.
   Stocton hit one of the two, giving South Greene possession with four ticks left. The Rebels slung it down court where Sauceman got off a good shot, but it bounced off the back of the rim giving Cloudland the three-point win.
   Sauceman paced the Rebels with 14 points, while Wright and Caraway tallied 11.
   Said Cody Caraway: "Our first half wasn't so well. We stepped it up and moved it around more in the second half. We just got to hit more shots and play better defense next time."
   "It felt good to get a win over a good team like that," said Byrd, who added nine points with his steals. "We have to put this behind us and have a good practice tomorrow so we can get prepared for Cosby."
   Josh Johnson was five of six from three-point land for the 'Landers, en route to his 17-point effort. He believes it was a solid win, but the team has got to get their heads on for Cosby.
   "We did real good out there," said Johnson."But we got Cosby on Saturday and we hope we can earn some respect from everybody. We're looking forwad to it. It will be a good expirience for us to get ready down the road. They are a lot like the teams down in the state."
   Said Smith: "We're just going to play another game, but we've got to play hard to win."