Early leads puts Devils over HV

By Jeff Birchfield
GREENEVILLE -- Greeneville jumped out to an early 13-0 lead and went on to record on a 62-53 non-conference win against the Happy Valley Warriors Friday night.
"We're a bad first-quarter ball club, honest," said Warrior head coach Charlie Bayless. "We had to dig ourselves to death just to get out of the hole. That's what killed us. We cut the lead down to eight twice and had the chance to cut down to six, but we didn't shoot well tonight."
Before the game, some of the Warrior players were complaining about the playing surface at Hal Henard Gymnasium. They were never able to adjust to the conditions, hitting only 20-of-53 shots from the floor.
Even without that, Greeneville was a formidable opponent made up of big, strong boys. Andrew Shumate was the leader of the group. He scored 19 points, thanks in part to a reverse lay-up that was hard to stop. Lee Ricker had 14 points and Tracy Champion contributed 13 to lead the Greene Devil cause.
"This year we are quicker than last year and move the ball well," said Greeneville head coach Bill Hawkins. "Last year we were huge and could just throw over people -- Shumate is very good. He's a young one, but he should really be good next year.
"We're 9-3 and I don't know how we're 9-3 other than just making shots at the right time."
Greeneville used the early run to hold a 21-6 advantage at the end of one quarter. They had a largest lead of 34-12 before Happy Valley closed it to 36-20 at the half.
"We played well," said Hawkins. "We tried to get some young kids in right before the half, but they got back in the game. Charlie's teams are always going to stay after you. They have a pretty good team."
The Warriors did pick up the pace in the second half, led by the strong efforts of Alex Carroll, who had 15 points and nine boards. No. 41's bucket with two minutes left in the third quarter pulled HV within 10 before Greeneville went on a 7-2 run to end the third quarter.
"We just came in here and shot bad," stated Carroll. "We couldn't get anything to fall. Finally, we were able to pick things up after a while. Whoever went in the game knew they were going to have to pick it up. They've got a bunch of big boys who are tough. We came together and boxed out to get as many rebounds as we could."
Happy Valley kept on clawing back in the final quarter. Andrew Bowman's bucket was the first of four straight scores for the Tribe. That cut the lead to eight points with a little over three minutes left in the game.
"We came out bad and once they got that big lead on us, it was hard to come out of the hole," said Bowman, who scored 11 points for Happy Valley. "We are the kind of team that will not give up. We just have to play better in the first half. They are probably the strongest team we've played. They beat us with a lot of easy shots."
With the lead in single digits at the two-minute mark, Shumate, Champion and Ricker all made scores to give the Devils a little more cushion.
Happy Valley closed back to eight again on treys by Tim Whaley and Bowman before a free throw by the Devils' Chase Greenway ended the scoring.
Whaley matched Carroll's total of 15 points to lead the Warrior efforts. Chris Rutledge added six points but more importantly had a great game on the defensive end with four steals.
Next up for the Warriors, who now stand at 5-4, is a Watauga Conference encounter at home Tuesday night against Johnson County.