Lady Highlanders dismount Knights

By Ivan Sanders

HARROGATE -- Remember as a kid when someone dangled a piece of licorice in front of your face. You just knew it was going to be yours, only to see the individual put an end to it with one huge flurry.
   The Lady Knights of J. Frank White felt the same way Monday night as Cloudland allowed the Knights to smell the opportunity of upset, only to be squashed 67-41 in the opening game of the Region 1-A girls basketball tournament on the floor of Tex Turner Arena at Lincoln Memorial University.
   Cloudland had an unusual night shooting in the early going as it saw several good shots rim out. The Lady Knights were determined to make the 'Landers sweat it out, as they were only down by six at the end of one period, 17-11.
   "We came out a little sluggish in the first half," stated Lander mentor Matt Birchfield. "We didn't shoot the ball real well, but we worked it out a little as the game went on."
   In the early going, Amy Storie came up huge for the 'Landers as the junior post player used her height advantage to work the glass and score on offensive rebounds.
   Meanwhile, Taukia Hughes found herself in foul trouble, but the 'Landers' Tara Hanson got hotter than Texas Pete to aid Cloudland in outscoring the Lady Knights 24-10 in the second quarter.
   "Tara just was tremendous on defense," said Birchfield. "She was able to get several steals and played great transitional basketball for easy buckets."
   Felecia North, who more closely resembled Pippi Longstocking, did all she could to keep J. Frank White in the game, hitting several key baskets to finish with 13.
   North's teammates, Emily Shelburne and Mary Mars, played excellent contributing roles as they scored 12 and 10, respectively.
   It was just too much 'Lady Landers though as Hanson finished the contest as high scorer with 22. Storie racked up 12 points and Hughes managed 10.
   "I think we just overlooked J. Frank White," said Hanson. "They have definitely improved, but we have got to do better to go on down the road."
   Nine Landers scored at least one basket in the contest. Cloudland also was the "Chairman of the Board" as it ripped down 18 boards to only eight for the Lady Knights.
   Closing out the scoring for the 'Landers was Nicki Webb with 7, Crystal Arnold 5, Holly Blair 4, Amanda McKinney 3, and two points each from Natasha Benfield and Stachia Johnson.
   The Lady 'Landers will square off against the winner of the Powell Valley and North Greene game, being played today, on Wednesday afternoon at 4.
   Said Hanson: "We only have one day of practice to get ready, so we have a lot of work to do. We cannot play like we did today against a good team."
   The Lady 'Landers are the number one seed in their bracket. If they can get past their semi-final matchup against the Powell Valley/North Greene winner, they will be assured of playing in the sub-state, which is slated for Saturday.
   It will not be an easy feat, because as one coach put it: "You'll see the best game of the year in the regional semis. That's when each team knows they're down to the end of the road for one of them."