Sullivan North heartbreaking venue for HV

By Jeff Birchfield

   For Happy Valley's boys and girls basketball teams, Friday night at Sullivan North was like spending a night at the "Heartbreak Hotel."
   The boys blew an 11-point lead in two minutes to drop at 54-51 decision to the Golden Raiders, while the girls saw their losing streak reach a dozen games with a 58-53 loss to the Lady Raiders.
   "We made some bad mistakes," remarked veteran HV head coach Charlie Bayless, whose team fell to 1-11 in the Watauga Conference and 6-13 overall. "We needed this game real bad for the conference. To lose after having a lead like that, we lost our composure.
   "One or two times, we threw the ball away. We had a couple of times we shouldn't have shot there. We had a nice 11-point lead and then made some big mistakes."
   The two teams battled back and forth throughout the first quarter with the Warriors finally taking a 15-12 advantage after a nifty steal and lay-up by Jason Tittle at the buzzer.
   However, Phillip Scarsellone responded for North (5-7, 10-12). Scarsellone scored 11 of the Raiders' 16 first-half points, en route to a performance where he netted 25 points and grabbed 8 boards.
   "That's not something we were designing to get him to score that many," said North head coach John McCrary. "But, if we can get the ball to Phillip, we're going to get it to him. We encourage our other guys to step up and try to score some. We need them to score too."
   After leading 21-16 at the half, Lamar Rollins helped the Warriors maintain the lead through the middle stages, scoring eight of his nine points in the third and early fourth quarters.
   Matt Edens with three of the Raiders' six three-point goals closed the lead to two points before a key turning point in the game. Down 36-34, North's McCrary was assessed a technical foul with 4:34 left in the game. Scarsellone picked up a second technical 37 seconds later and the Warriors then compiled a 9-0 run with buckets and free throws by Chris Campbell and Tim Whaley.
   The lead was at 11 points with 3:36 remaining before Michael Buchanan made an old-fashioned three-point play and Edens sank a trey to trigger the comeback. In a two-minute span the Raiders went on a 16-2 run to nab a three point lead at 50-47.
   Two Campbell free throws pulled HV to within one. After a foul shot by North's Kevin Arnold, Campbell sank a jumper with 28 seconds left to knot things up at 51-all. Buchanan then worked the biggest magic of the evening with a terrific pass to an open Edens who hit a lay-up and was fouled with only 12 seconds remaining. His free throw on the back end of the play provided the final score.
   "Michael Buchanan made a great play at the end," said McCrary. "We ran a spread and it was his job to take what they give you. You try to penetrate and get it in there. Fortunately, it worked out pretty good. He saw the floor and made a great play."
   Campbell and Whaley each missed treys at the end of the contest as North took the unlikely victory. McCrary, head coach at Lynn View for 8 years before the formation of Sullivan North High where he has been for all 22 of their roundball seasons, remembered another recent HV-North meeting with a different outcome.
   "That's one they owed us from two years ago," McCrary recalled. "We were up seven with 1:40 to go and we got beat by six. Those things they come and they go. Tonight, we were playing real tight and weren't real active. I'm real proud of the kids. That was a real comeback to be down with 3 minutes to go. They did a good job."
   Campbell had 23 points, 14 of them in the final quarter, Whaley posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds and Rollins had 10 in the HV loss. The Raiders picked up 13 points from Edens to compliment Scarsellone's effort.
   Bayless, nearing 50 years of head coaching experience, is ready to put this game behind. "That's just one of those things," said Bayless about the loss. "It's been one of them years, riding a roller coaster, and tonight was down. We've got a big game coming up against Erwin (next Tuesday) and we can't afford to lose that one."