'Landers surprise behing Tolley's 33

By Tim Chambers
STAR Correspondent

   Little Richard sang the song "Good Golly Miss Molly" in the late '50s. Saturday night at Sonny Smith Gymnasium, Trailblazer fans were heard singing "Good Golly Robbie Tolley as they made way back to Gray.
   Behind a remarkable 33-point outburst from Tolley, the Highlanders held off Boone 47-44 Saturday night in Roan Mountain. The 'Landers were without the services of Mark Byrd, who was away in Washington D.C.
   "They have a great team and are well-coached," stated Tolley. I was feeling it and my teammates did a good job at getting me the ball."
   The Highlanders jumped out to a 8-3 lead behind three buckets from Tolley and one by Cody Jones. Ryan Doyle's jumper closed the gap to 8-5 after a Boone free throw.
   A Tolley bucket with :30 remaining extended to lead to 10-5, but Boone answered with two Rusty Mabe free throws to close the gap to 10-7 after one.
   Cloudland opened the second frame with a nice runner from Jon Pritchard to remain in front, 12-9. Aaron Cox gave Boone its first lead, 13-12, with two buckets in the paint.
   Jones answered with a downtown three to push Cloudland back in front 15-13. Boone's 5-0 run gave the Blazers an 18-15 advantage, but a three-point play by Tolley capped off by four more from the 6-6 center gave the 'Landers a 22-18 lead at the break.
   Cloudland extended the lead to 26-18 in the third behind Tolley as Boone had no answers for stopping the Roan Mountain wrecking crew. Craig Cooke delighted the crowd with two beautiful fullcourt passes to Tolley for an open lay-up as suddenly the lead grew to 11 at 30-19.
   Boone went on an 8-0 run capped off by a three from Rusty Mabe and a basket by Morgan Honeycutt. Tolley's fade away gave Cloudland a 35-30 lead but a tip-in at the buzzer by Boone forward Kevin Champange cut the deficit to 35-32 going into the final quarter.
   The Highlanders kept plugging in the fourth stanza, feeding the ball inside to Tolley like a 10-year-old boy giving peanuts to an elephant. Each and every time Tolley seem to answer with key buckets down the stretch.
   Boone got within two 46-44 after a long three by Doyle and a tip-in by Champange with :28 seconds remaining. After back to back one and one misses by the Highlanders' Aaron Stocton hit 1 of 2 to push the lead back at 47-44.
   Boone's last second three missed the mark as the Highlander faithful celebrated their win over the Class 3A Trailblazers.
   Cody Jones followed Tolley in scoring with 11 including three long range treys.
   "I was looking for the open shot," said Jones. "I was just trying to hit some outside shots to take the pressure off of Robbie."
   Boone was led in scoring by Cox with 14 while Mabe had 11 and Doyle 10.
   "I am proud of our team," stated Cloudland head coach Ned Smith. "Robbie was unreal tonight."
   Lady Trailblazers 38
   Lady Highlanders 36
   Everyone said it was a mismatch but the Lady Highlanders wanted to prove that they could play with one of the area's most elite programs.
   Taking advantage of some cold shooting by the Lady 'Landers, Boone managed a 38-36 win Saturday night at Sonny Smith Gymnasium.
   The Highlanders jumped out to a 8-3 lad behind a bucket from Heather Banner and two from sophomore sensation Jessica Lunsford. Boone cut the lead to 8-7 behind two buckets from Emily Werner and Jamie Massengill.
   Cloudland regained the momentum when Lunsford's runner found its mark at the buzzer to give the Highlanders a 10-7 advantage.
   The game was tight-fisted in the second quarter as April Williams dominated the offensive glass in the second stanza, scoring two buckets on putbacks to up the lead at 17-12. Boone answered behind Sarah Petty and Laura Hilton to close the gap within one.
   Lunsford's two free throws followed by a Rebecca Clawson baseline jumper gave Cloudland a 23-21 lead at the halftime break.
   "We wanted to beat Boone because we never had beat them before," said Lunsford. "We want to show people we are improving. Our team really played our hearts out tonight."
   Cloudland stayed in front throughout the third quarter on buckets from Crystal Arnold, Jessica McGuire and Williams. After a Lunsford hoop, Boone answered with a layup by Keli Petty at the buzzer to trail 33-30 going into the final quarter.
   Poor shooting would plague the Highlanders in the fourth period as the offense went over eight five minutes without a field goal. Boone took the lead late in the fourth behind a three from Massengill and two free throws.
   Lunsford's drive with 2:00 remaining cut the lead to one with the crowd on its feet. The Trailblazers held a slim 38-36 lead after a free throw from Massengill followed by a Highlander timeout.
   The Highlanders worked the ball to McGuire, whose shot rolled around the rim and fell off as time expired.
   "We played with much energy and lots of determination," stated Highlander head coach Matt Birchfield. "We want to keep improving before tournament time."
   Williams and Lunsford topped Cloudland with 12 each, while Massengill led the Trailblazers with 14.