Cloudland turns back Cedar View

By Marvin Birchfield

   It was like night and day for Cloudland in its matchup with Cedar View Christian, as it came out in the second half to run away with a 55-36 victory on Monday night.
   The Highlanders struggled through the first two quarters, but their intensity on defense proved to be the great equalizer down the stretch.
   "We came out flat and weren't running our offense, but in the second half we started getting after it on defense," said Cloudland coach Ned Smith.
   Cloudland trailed after the first period of play 13-11, when Stephen Steffey drew a foul from Zack Cooke down low to convert a three-point play.
   The 'Landers went on a 9-1 run to start the second period to build a six-point advantage.
   It started when Josh Johnson nailed a three-point shot with 5:47 left in the period, and a pass from Mark Byrd to Craig Cooke on the break made it 20-14 with two minutes left in the half.
   The Seahawks closed the gap to within three heading into halftime, after Steffey knocked down a couple of baskets.
   Cloudland was not in rhythm with its offense in the first half, so it decided to turn up pressure on defense in the third period.
   "The second half I was pleased. The kids settled down and run their offense, and scored off of playing good defense," said Smith.
   The game remained close in the first couple of minutes of the second half, as Deven Smith scored on two field goals inside for the Seahawks.
   In the last five minutes of the quarter, it was all 'Landers as they scored 12 unanswered points to end the period.
   "We knew they would have the intensity in the second half, and we wanted to match the intensity, but we had too many turnovers in the third quarter," said Cedar View coach Tim Strickland.
   A bucket down low and free throw from Jonathan Pritchard gave Cloudland a 39-24 lead heading into the final period of play.
   The 'Landers kept their up-tempo pace going through the fourth quarter, as Byrd made a steal and pass to a wide open Aaron Stocton.
   "I knew it was coming," said Strickland. "We played them at home, but I'm pleased with the way my guys played hard."
   The lead increased to 20 when Cole Gouge connected on the fast break and drew the foul for the three-point play.
   "We under estimated them a little, but the coach got onto us, so we came out and played," Gouge said. "You can't underestimate any team."
   Gouge poured in seven points in the final quarter to lead the 'Landers with 13 points along with Josh Johnson, who also finished with 13.
   "I just tried to get down the floor and post up, and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball," said Gouge.
   Lady Highlanders 53
   Lady Seahawks 19
   It was somewhat of a scary moment for the Lady 'Landers by facing a one-point deficit at halftime, but they rebounded to win in convincing fashion over Cedar View.
   The 'Landers got off to a horrible start in the first period by capturing just two scores, which came from Amy Storie and Tara Hanson.
   "We didn't play real well early and were flat, and we've had some sick, plus "Stachia Johnson" turned her ankle," said Lady 'Lander coach Matt Birchfield, "but we regrouped in the second half and finally got to where we needed to be,"
   Cloudland trailed 10-4 at the end of the first, as Brittany Wells led the Seahawks with two field goals.
   The 'Landers trimmed the lead to one at the half, as they went to their strength inside with Storie converting down low.
   Cedar View had shocked Cloudland through the first two periods, but it was a whole new attitude for the 'Landers heading into the second half.
   "We played real good defense to start the game, but we were unable in the second half to handle the full-court pressure," said Cedar View girls coach Perry Carter.
   The defensive pressure from the Lady 'Landers overwhelmed Cedar View in the third quarter, with Tara Hanson making several steals and scores.
   "Our defense really won the game, because we started getting up in their face and we held them scoreless in the third until about 20 seconds left," Birchfield said.
   Hanson posted 10 points in the third, while Storie had nine to give Cloudland a comfortable lead of 34-16 heading into the final period.
   "We have a lot out sick and were not ready to play, but we got it together at halftime and came out pretty strong," said Storie.
   Cloudland came out to score the first seven points of the quarter with April Williams connecting on a basket and three-point goal.
   "I got my head in gear in the second-half. I had to step up to rebound and score the best I could," said Storie.
   The 'Landers continued to pull away, as they created several turnovers off the press and ran the break.
   "Cloudland did a good job with their press and we kept on turning the ball over, then they built a lead to end the ball game," said Carter.