Bulldogs stick it to Devils

By Doug Janz

   ERWIN -- There was plenty of drama in the Hampton boys' basketball victory over Unicoi County on Friday night, but the only question in the girls' game was whether the Lady Bulldogs would ever miss a 3-pointer.
   The boys wrapped up second place in the Watauga Conference with a 45-43 victory over the Blue Devils, thanks to Kevin Harrison's steal and two free throws in the final eight seconds.
   That put the boys at 16-12 overall, 8-6 in the league for sole possession of second place behind Elizabethton.
   The girls' game was the one that left everyone amazed.
   Hampton shot 16 for 18 in the first half, including 7 for 7 on 3-pointers, and cruised to a 60-37 victory over Unicoi County, one of the league's top teams.
   The score was 42-13 at the half.
   "That's the best this group's ever played, and the best we've ever shot," Hampton girls' coach Leslie Campbell said of the first half.
   "I don't believe I've ever seen 'em have a half like that, at least not shooting," said Doug Phillips, who retired as longtime head coach after last season and was in the stands Friday as usual.
   The girls got 16 points and four 3-pointers from Kari Stout in the first half, while Allison Pierce hit two and Joy Gardner nailed one.
   The team finished at 8 for 12 on 3-pointers after an unspectacular second half.
   "I think our defense is what got us there," said Stout, who scored 22 and was coming off a 31-point outburst in a big win over Elizabethton three nights earlier. "We had the intensity we needed on defense, and that helps start the 3-pointers."
   Stout was 4 of 6 on her 3-pointers. She shot 8 for 12 from the field overall and had five rebounds.
   Pierce scored 13, while Amanda Finney and Cindy Hyatt had nine points apiece. Finney had six rebounds and Hyatt had eight.
   The Lady Bulldogs are 18-9 overall, 11-3 in the Watauga Conference, second by one game to Sullivan Central.
   "Our win over Elizabethton was probably the best game we've played this year," Campbell said, "and it carried through. It seemed like the girls got into the flow of the game and kept the intensity up."
   "That's the best shooting of any high school team I've ever seen," said UCHS head coach Glenn Fisher, whose team is 19-6 overall, 9-5 in the Watauga Conference.
   Amber Bailey led Unicoi County with 16 points, all in the second half and 12 of them in the third period alone. The Lady Devils shot 14 for 55 from the field.
   The Bulldogs play host to Unaka next Friday to finish out the regular season.
   The boys pulled out the win after trailing by four with 1:19 remaining.
   Harrison sank a pair of free throws at 1:11 and then the Bulldog press forced a turnover, which resulted in Matthew Campbell's inside bucket to tie the game at 43-all.
   As the Devils ran the clock down and tried to move the ball into position for a final shot, Harrison came up with the backcourt steal and was fouled as he dribbled downcourt.
   He swished both free throws, and then the defense forced two shaky Unicoi County passes, followed by a turnover as time expired.
   Harrison said he wasn't nervous when he stepped to the foul line.
   "I knew it was going in," he said. "I felt confident."
   "Kevin's played the last two games really good," said Hampton head coach Jerry White. "He's coming into the way he should be playing."
   The Blue Devils (14-11, 5-9) led 19-10 at the half but the lead was slashed to one point by the start of the fourth quarter, and it stayed close.
   "We didn't move the ball on offense in the first half," Harrison said. "We did a better job of that in the second half. It was an all-around team effort."
   Ryan Deskins had 13 points and Harrison and Jeremy Hall scored 10 points apiece.
   Hampton made only three 3-pointers, but held Unicoi County to an 0-for-7 effort.
   The Devils got 17 points and 10 rebounds from up-and-coming center Ryan Patterson, while Nick Garland had 10 points.
   "They just made some plays at the end, and we didn't play very well the last two minutes," said Unicoi County coach David Whaley, whose team had won five in a row and six of its last seven before Friday.