Warriors top Cougars in home finale

By Jeff Birchfield

   Playing their final home game for Happy Valley, seniors Chris Campbell and Adam Smith combined for 36 points in a 65-56 upset of Watauga Conference foe Sullivan Central.
   Campbell exploded for 24 points. Included in the effort was hitting 9-of-10 shots from the foul line.
   "It felt good the last home game here," said Campbell. "It's pretty satisfying that everybody came out and was ready to play tonight. I'm glad that everybody played hard and that we all played a real good game."
   Despite the offensive outburst, Campbell's biggest contribution may have come on the other end of the court. In the fourth quarter with the game on the line, Campbell held Central's Josh Crain to only four points. Before that, Crain had burned the Warriors for 18 points, including four shots behind the three-point arc.
   "I saw (Jason) Tittle was getting hung up in their screens," explained Campbell. "I told him to let me have him (Crain). I was going to get through the screens somehow, some way. I was determined to try to shut him down and I did."
   Smith pumped in 12 points that included a key three-pointer in the third quarter and a pressure-packed free throw with 19 seconds left after missing a first attempt.
   "I knew I had to settle down and hit it," commented Smith. "The first one was long and I knew had to make the second one to put us up by two possessions. I just concentrated and tried to hit it.
   "The same thing with the three-pointer. I just stuck with my shot. I felt confidence in it and just stepped up and hit it. It felt good to help win the game."
   Early on, Happy Valley employed a zone defense to fluster the Cougar offense, holding them to only five points in the first quarter.
   "We missed some easy shots early in the game," said Central head coach Tony Vaughn. "We ended up getting in foul trouble and on the flip side, never was able to get to the line a lot. We never got a one and one the whole game.
   "Happy Valley had a lot to do with that. They played good pressure defense and they played better than we did tonight. You live by the three, you die by the three, and our shots weren't going. We then had to force it inside."
   The second quarter, the Cougars got rolling behind the play of big man Matt Dunford, who ended the game with 17 points and 13 rebounds. The two teams would battle back and forth for the remainder of the game until Tim Whaley finally gave the Warriors a 56-54 lead with less than a minute remaining.
   Forced to foul, Central watched helplessly as HV pulled away in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
   Besides Campbell and Smith, Andy Hilton and Tittle were also honored on Senior Night. Hilton scored four points in the win and did enough slowing down taller players in Dunford and Gabe Vannoy to keep the Warriors in the ballgame.
   Tittle was forced to take a bigger role than usual at the point guard position with backup Cody Whitlock out with an ankle injury.
   However, it wasn't just the seniors, who this night belonged to.
   "Tim Whaley came in and played a real good ball game," remarked HV head coach Charlie Bayless. "Cody Cannon came off the bench and played good. Lamar (Rollins) dogged their point guard and got them out of their offense. That was a key in the ballgame."
   For his part, sophomore Whaley had 11 points and a team-high 7 rebounds. The junior class featured Rollins with 10 points and Cannon with four to jump start the victory dance.
   The Warriors as a team connected on 21 of their 26 attempts from the free throw line, including 8 of 10 in the final quarter.
   "We hit our foul shots," said Bayless. "You win your close games that way. We broke the press well and ran the ball real well. We had a little more composure than in our last couple of games."
   Happy Valley improved to 5-9 in the conference and 7-14 overall with the win. Sullivan Central fell to 7-7 in league games and 15-12 in all games with the loss.