Lady Warriors shock top-seeded Cougars

By Allen LaMountain

   KINGSPORT -- Sullivan Central head coach Gary Surcey won't like the term 'free throw' for quite some time, since it was shooting from the charity stripe that cost his Lady Cougars a trip to the regional tournament.
   Central shot a horrible nine-of-24 from the free throw line as the Happy Valley Lady Warriors slow-it-down approach worked to perfection in a 35-33 win at Sullivan North High School on Saturday afternoon.
   "We didn't play with any emotion or intensity in the first half," commented Surcey. "We didn't make any unguarded shots and down the stretch we had some silly mistakes. It was an uncharacteristic performance"
   Happy Valley - playing a patient slow tempo game - took a 16-8 lead into the intermission as Kandra Roberts scored seven of her 13 points in the first half, with Brandi Dugger kicking in six.
   "Our defense was awesome," said Roberts. "We decided to sag low since they are bigger than us. We kept them from getting the ball in to their post players. We had a losing season, but we are heading to the regionals and we're happy about that."
   After three quarters Happy Valley led 29-21, but the Lady Cougars showed signs of coming to life as Lauren Burke hit a deuce and Lindsey McGrady followed that up with a three-point play to cut the Warrior lead to 29-26 with 6:15 remaining in regulation.
   Brandi Morgan answered for Happy Valley with a deuce, but Kristy Moody hit a bucket and Burke was one-of-two from the line to give Central a 31-30 lead.
   McGrady had a chance to make it a three point advantage but sank just one free throw. Down the stretch Central hit just one-of-nine from the free throw line to keep Happy Valley in the contest.
   Amber Salley was just one-of-nine from the charity stripe and the Warriors fouled her continuously down the stretch.
   Brandi Dugger scored a bucket to get the Warriors to within a point at 33-32 at the 1:27 mark and after a steal Mandy Byrd cruised coast-to-coast scoring a bucket to give HV a 34-33 lead.
   Tara Whaley's free throw iced it with 3.9 seconds left.
   "Our game plan was to sit back in zone and force them to make outside shots," said Lady Warrior's head coach Ben Godsey. "We identified two of their players who we felt could shoot and we went out on them. Rebounding was a big factor for us."
   Elizabethton 61
   Volunteer 44
   Forward Lacy Lane dropped in a game-high 22 points on seven-of-10 shooting from the floor as Betsy advanced and will take on Happy Valley on Tuesday night, as EHS romped past the Lady Falcons.
   EHS took a 25-17 lead into halftime with Lane pouring in 10 points and freshman Rikki Baughman adding eight. The Lady Cyclones held Volunteer to five-of-18 shooting in the first half, while Betsy shot nine-of-18 from the floor.
   "I felt pretty good tonight," said Lane. "We had a pretty good practice earlier to try and get our shots down and that helped a lot. We pulled together real well in this game, and were happy to be going to the regional."
   Throughout the second half Volunteer continued to scratch and claw it's way back into the game and at the 4:41 mark, a three-point play by Meghan Arnold closed the Betsy lead to 43-38.
   A pair of turnovers on the next two EHS possessions allowed Volunteer to get even closer as Leah Johnson banked home a trey and with 3:50 left, the Falcons had closed the gap to 43-41.
   "I thought right away, 'Here we go again,'" said EHS head coach Mike Wilson. "Volunteer plays us tough. It seems like we go into a lull and they come right back."
   The Lady Cyclones answered the challenge as Beth Holtsclaw canned a two-pointer and Lane followed that with a three-point play to extend Betsy to a 48-41 lead.
   The remainder of the contest was a free throw contest and to their credit the Cyclones answered that challenge as well hitting 26-of-35 from the line to pull away down the stretch.
   Holtsclaw scored 12 points for EHS, while Arnold and Johnson each scored 10 for Volunteer and teammate Tamika Trammell chipped in with eight.
   Hampton 65
   Johnson County 39
   This contest was as ugly as the score indicated, as Hampton won going away as Kari Stout scored 16 points to lead a balanced effort for the Lady Bulldogs.
   Hampton cruised to a 40-17 halftime lead and was never threatened from there as Alison Pierce scored all 12 of her points in the first half.
   "We simply got out-played tonight," said Lady Longhorn's head coach Eric Crabtree. "In all aspects of the game Hampton out did us. We wanted to try to control the tempo, but we got caught up in the fast-paced game that Hampton likes to play and we can't play like that."
   The Lady 'Horns shot 17-of-54 from the floor while the Lady 'Dogs scorched the nets at a 22-of-39 (56.4 percent) pace.
   Andrea McQueen paced the 'Horns with 13 points, while Jessica Townsend added eight to go along with six boards.
   Unicoi County 45
   Sullivan North 36
   Sullivan North led the whole way until the fourth quarter when the Lady Blue Devils turned up the defensive pressure and held the Golden Raiders to just six points in the final stanza.
   Kim Doran and Nakesha Bledsoe paced North with nine points each, while Amber Bailey and Deanna Rice led Unicoi with eight each.
   North out-scored Unicoi 11-8 in the third period after both teams went into the break tied at 19-19, but the Devils had a finishing kick at the end while the Raiders fizzled.