'Landers roll to victory

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Correspondent

   JOHNSON CITY -- The Cloudland Highlanders kept Providence Academy at bay Monday night with an 86-55 win in Johnson City.
   "We came out with our defense and we got after it," Cloudland head coach Ned Smith said. "We shot the ball real well early."
   The first quarter ended with the Knights trailing by nine, and that is as close as they would get to catching up. Cloudland dominated with turnovers while Providence lost too many baskets to missed 3-pointers.
   The 'Landers' Craig Cooke was good for 19 points, including 2-2 at the free throw line and one 3-pointer. But Cooke says that the credit is not all his.
   "We have had a lot of young people step up, as far as the team coming together -- more focus than what it was," said Cooke.
   With a 25-point lead after the third quarter, Smith let the bench work the final three minutes of the game, but the switch didn't slow down Cloudland's offense.
   Second in scoring was Aaron Stocton with 18 points, who was 2-4 at the foul line, and was also his season high.
   "[Stocton] has been working harder in practice, and he is getting better. He played real well tonight," said Smith.
   "Our guards shot real well," he said. "We were patient on offense and took good shots. I think that our defense causes us to get those shots. We were a little aggressive, but it got us moving I guess."
   That aggressiveness cost the team to give up 22 fouls, but Providence couldn't sink the free throws at 9-24.
   The Knights' leading scorer was James Herrington with 18, followed by Travis McLaughlin with 11 points.
   For the 'Landers, Cody Jones also moved the scoreboard with 17 points with two 3-pointers. John Pritchard also bagged a double with 12 points, as did Robbie Tolley with 10.
   Cloudland will go up against Tri-Cities Christian tonight at home.
   Cooke and Stocton are looking forward to the re-match.
   Stocton also expects a repeat of his and his teammates' performance from Monday night.
   "We've got to play good defense, and have good rebounds," he said.
   "We played them in the Christmas tournament, and we weren't as focused," said Cooke. "They came out, and got the lead on us. We focused a lot in this game, and put a lot of pressure on [Providence]. I think we are ready to go."