Lady Warriors trip Cloudland

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com
The Lady 'Landers couldn't hold their consistency during their contest against Happy Valley, and it caught up with them during the final quarter in their 41-35 loss to the Lady Warriors at Cloudland High.
Cloudland began the game strongly, taking the five-point lead by the end of the first quarter, driven primarily by Jessica Lunsford and her six points, and boosted by a three-pointer from Crystal Arnold. Happy Valley's offense saw early scoring by Brandi Dugger and Terra Whaley, with four points each in the first quarter.
Kortney Goulds rounded out the Lady Warriors' score to 10 with a field goal.
In the second quarter, a basket from Lunsford and a free throw by April Williams was as far as the Lady Highlanders got. Whaley, on the other end of the court, continued her consistent shooting with two more baskets, while a goal from Kelia Williams and foul shot from Dugger gave Happy Valley seven for the quarter.
"We really came out good, and came out strong in the first half, and led after the first quarter," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield. "We played really well, and got some good baskets, which is what we've got to do. The second quarter, we played good until about halfway through, and they came back and we ended up going down one at the half. We were still in good shape. We played hard, and got some stops and did what we needed to do. We just needed to score inside a little bit better."
After the half, Cloudland came back after their faltering second quarter to score 12 more points in the third, still clinging to the lead. A team effort from Happy Valley put 10 points on the board.
In the final quarter, Happy Valley got down to business. While their variety of presses held the Lady 'Landers to five points, Dugger wreaked havoc on the basket, putting in seven points by the end of the quarter. Scoring from Whaley, Kate Powell, Amber Duncan, and Mandy Byrd cushioned Happy Valley's growing lead, and with mere minutes left in the game, the Lady Warriors overtook Cloudland and won the game 41-35.
"It was a well-played game by both teams," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey. "I just felt like there at the end of the fourth quarter, once we got the lead, we were patient; we had our offense. We had eight assists in the second half. Defensively, we played hard. We controlled the boards and we rebounded -- I thought that was the key to the game."
Godsey attributed the win to the full-court press his girls put on Cloudland late in the game, and their ability to execute.
"We wanted to keep putting the pressure on them," Godsey said. "We used about three different presses. We tried to keep coming after them and it made them hurry a little bit. Whaley made some awesome moves, and some nice shots. Brandi Dugger made some nice moves penetrating the zone. Keila Williams had about 13 or 14 rebounds. She controlled the defensive end. We had some good performances."
Dugger led Happy Valley's scoring with 14 points, followed closely by Whaley with 12.
Birchfield wasn't devastated by the loss, but used it as a learning experience.
"We got in panic mode a little," Birchfield said. "They had some turnovers; their man-to-man pressure did. We've got to make some baskets. We missed a lot of shots: baskets that you've got to make, that maybe pushed us over the top. We still had the lead, but we were just barely hanging on."
Lunsford was Cloudland's leading scorer, with 13 points. Arnold put in eight points, including two three-pointers.