'Dogs take bite out of Central's Cougars

By Allen LaMountain

   KINGSPORT -- Playing for a spot opposite Elizabethton in the District 1-AA finals on Friday night, the Hampton Bulldogs showed that a dog with determination can whip about any size cat.
   In this case it was the Sullivan Central Cougars who repeatedly misfired and then lost their cool altogether as Hampton won going away by a 53-37 count.
   Hampton will try once again to knock off the Cyclones, who still have not lost a game to a conference foe this season, but guard Zack Ensor thinks the third time might be the charm.
   "We just have to come out and play ball," Ensor said. "We will have to play our game and see what happens."
   Guard Kevin Harrison led Hampton with 15 points on a night that field goal percentages were down on both sides, with the 'Dogs hitting 14-of-37 (37.8 percent) and Central was 14-of-43 (32.5 percent).
   It was at the charity stripe that Hampton took control, hitting on 22-of-33 as the Central defense consisted of a quite a bit of clutching and grabbing, resulting a lots of whistles.
   "They were reaching and grabbing a lot," said Ensor. "Main thing is we hit our free throws. We had a few mental lapses offensively, but we basically took what they gave us."
   The 'Dogs led by 12 at the break 32-20 as Harrison netted 11 and Ryan Deskins added seven more to the Hampton cause.
   In a third period that no one will mistake for a thing of beauty, both teams combined for 11 points and led to a brief Central run that managed to cut the deficit by a point going into the final stanza.
   Matt Campbell's deuce opened the fourth period for Hampton and Harrison followed with a free throw.
   Matt Dunford and Zach Frye answered for Central to make it a 39-30 contest, but that was as close as the Cougars would get the rest of the way.
   A three by Joe LeSeuer and a bucket by Dunford were sandwiched around two free throws from Harrison to get Central within 44-35, but moments later while going after a loose ball, LeSeuer was ticketed with his fifth personal and he apparently let the referees know how he felt about the call a little too strenuously.
   LeSeuer was slapped with a technical and Frye was hit with a flagrant foul infraction as Central seemed to be unraveling in the face of an opponent a step too quick for them on this night.
   "We had to have someone step up and make some shots," said Cougars head coach Tony Vaughn. "We missed some good looks in the paint and a bunch of free throws, but you have nights like that now and then. No excuses though, you just have to step up and play."
   Dunford led Central with 12 points, while LeSeuer and Josh Crain each fouled out wit seven and four points, respectively.