Lady 'Landers sew up conference title

By Wes Holtsclaw

STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The Cloudland Lady Highlanders opened with a bang and ended with their second straight conference title after a 44-33 victory over the Unaka Lady Rangers at Snavely Gym.
   "It was a low scoring game," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield. "It was loud in here and the defense was tremendous. We came out hard and had kids step up tonight. Holly and Stachia came out big for us and Nicki Webb got a lot of boards and played good defense."
   "Unaka shoots the ball well, Roberson was tough inside," he said. "It's two in a row for us. The girls wanted this game and it meant a lot to him."
   Cloudland opened on a 7-0 run behind Holly Blair and Stachia Johnson. Unaka got all of its points from Julie Roberson to open the game as Cloudland took a 13-6 lead after the first quarter.
   Danielle Ensor and Jessica Osborne were big in the second frame for the Lady Rangers, but big buckets from Tara Hanson and Jessica Lunsford gave Cloudland a 13-point lead into the second half.
   Unaka opened up behind Kelly Taylor and Roberson into the third quarter, but the Lady Landers held on. Tough defense from April WIlliams and Nicki Webb were big keys towards the end of the contest.
   The Lady Rangers kept striking, but some buckets from Amy Storie drew it out for Cloudland as they took the victory.
   "It feels great," said Holly Blair. "All you need is confidence and this will be a boost for us."
   "This is a big night for our seniors," said Nicki Webb. "We've been looking forward to this game. We wanted to win the conference, district, regional and get to state. This is a big boost for us."
   Said Hanson: "The win feels incredible. To come to this environment and win is crazy. The whole team stepped up."
   Hanson finished the game with 11 points, while Roberson tallied 10 for Unaka.