Raiders slip past Warriors

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   Tuesday night at Bayless Gymnasium, two familiar foes squared off as the Sullivan North Golden Raiders brought a battle for Watauga conference bragging rights to Warrior Hill.
   The boys game turned out to be a last minute nailbiter as both teams took it down the stretch to settle a victor, with the Golden Raiders claiming a 50-48 decision.
   HV head coach Charlie Bayless was pleased with his players and the toughness they displayed.
   "They gave good effort," Bayless said. "I played a lot of kids tonight and they all played hard."
   Both teams would struggle offensively throughout most of the contest due to poor shooting and stifling defensive effort. But the fourth quarter left plenty of firepower in store for the fans in attendance.
   For the majority of the first half, the Golden Raiders relied on the stellar shooting of C.J. Minnick. The sharpshooter went 5-of-6 from beyond the three-point line in the first half, helping Sullivan North out to a 22-16 halftime advantage.
   The third quarter saw a healthy dosage of bench players for the Warriors and the formula worked with mixed results. John Bulla would post double figures in the game, and kept Happy Valley within striking distance.
   The strike came in the form of stingy defense and a little luck. Trailing by eight heading into the final stanza, the Warriors received a strong effort by Stephen Williams.
   Williams poured in eight points to pull the Warriors close, but North would maintain a seven-point lead until 55.9 seconds on the clock. Enter luck...
   As Todd Caldwell went up for a shot, he was fouled and then North's Kevin Arnold added a technical foul in an incident that helped swing momentum and give the Warriors hope in the final seconds.
   Williams was allowed to shoot all four foul shots, and he connected on three. Trailing by four points and with the ball, the Warriors were poised to pull off the comeback.
   North would counter with strong foul shooting, and despite a Ricky Morgan trey with four seconds remaining, the Warriors would fall 50-48 in an epic effort.
   Bayless later summed up his club's shortcomings.
   "Inexperience has hurt us this season," he said. "We have to get mature, and then we won't make the same mistakes."
   The girls matchup was a more one-sided affair as the second quarter would put the Lady Warriors in an almost impossible situation.
   Tied 15-all at the end of the first period, thanks to a buzzerbeating jumper by Whitney Crowe, the second quarter would spell disaster for HV.
   The Lady Warriors were outscored 17 to 4 in the period -- their first points coming on a Mandy Byrd jumper with under two minutes remaining in the half.
   Head coach Ben Godsey tried to make halftime adjustments to little success in the third.
   "We gave poor effort tonight, three quarters of standing around isn't going to win any games," he said.
   Trailing 51-31 heading into the fourth period, it looked as if the Lady Warriors were down and out. However they made it respectable, outscoring the Lady Raiders 15-6 in the period on the strength of two threes by Kate Powell.
   Dugger would finish with 18, while Lindsey Collins had 19 for the Raiders, who secured a 57-46 conference victory.
   Godsey praised his troops for the comeback effort.
   "We played our guts out in the fourth quarter," Godsey said. "But that was too late."