Lady Warriors beat Central at buzzer

By Marvin Birchfield

   BLOUNTVILLE -- The Lady Warriors won in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night as a last-second shot at the end of regulation enabled Happy Valley to come away with a 45-43 Watauga Conference decision over Sullivan Central.
   "It's a game of momentum and we had a good lead in the fourth quarter, then they grabbed it away from us, but we did just enough at the end to get the victory," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey.
   Great defense from Mandy Byrd down the stretch allowed the Warriors to erase a three-point deficit in the final seconds, with Katie Powell connecting on the rebound at the buzzer.
   "Mandi was able to hit the free throw and get the steal, and then Katie came through with a big rebound and put back," said Godsey.
   Happy Valley took a slim advantage of 10-8 after the first period of play.
   A couple of field goals from Brandi Dugger and Kortney Goulds helped the Warriors get out front early in the going.
   Sullivan Central responded in the second period to grab a 29-22 lead at halftime.
   Kristi Moody carried the Cougars as she scored 11 points during the second quarter, but Happy Valley came out after the break to reassume the lead.
   Powell stepped up in the third quarter to knock down a three-pointer and field goal.
   The Warriors defense was exceptional in the third period, as they held Central to just three points to give them an one-point margin heading into the final period.
   Happy Valley struck first in the fourth period with a drive and foul inside by Dugger.
   The Warriors converted again when Goulds grabbed the defensive rebound and passed to Powell on the break for a three-point play.
   It was a 40-35 lead that Happy Valley enjoyed with under minutes left, before the Cougars made a 8-0 run to regain the advantage.
   "They took us out of our game with their defense, and I had two girls foul out with five minutes left, but we did a good job of coming back," said Sullivan Central coach Gary Surcey.
   Some key baskets from Central inside from Julie LeSueur and Moody assisted the Cougars in obtaining a three-point lead with 32 seconds left.
   A basket from Terra Whaley down low trimmed the deficit to one with 15 seconds to go, with the Warriors calling time-out.
   The Warriors came out of the break with a heads-up defensive play from Byrd as she drew a charge on the in-bounds, giving the Warriors a chance to go ahead at the foul-line.
   Byrd missed on her first attempt, but hit the foul shot on her second chance to tie the game at 43-43.
   "I was short on my last two free throws, and I knew I had to put a little more effort into it," said Byrd.
   Another tremendous effort from Byrd with a swipe produced a turnover in the backcourt, and Goulds picked up the loose ball.
   "I had been watching TV today about how Michael Jordan and Larry Byrd were talking about being in slumps," Byrd said. "They came through and played defense, and that was the big thing tonight."
   Goulds followed with a pass to Bryd on the break, but tough defense by the Cougars underneath kept her from scoring with time winding down.
   A scramble for the loose ball off the miss was recovered by Powell, and a last-second shot with :01 remaining gave the Warriors the celebration.
   "We really played as a team tonight," Powell said. "We stole the ball, then I made the shot, and it was a total team effort from everybody."
   Happy Valley 59
   Sullivan Central 95
   Sullivan Central opened up with a quick start and never looked back in their disposal of Happy Valley.
   "They were coming off their loss to Sullivan North, so I knew they were going to be mad, but they were hitting good tonight from the outside," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless.
   The Warriors fell behind early with a 24-10 deficit after the first period, as John LeSueur knocked down two three-point goals while scoring 10 points.
   "We got down and I had to go after them and trap, but that's just right down their alley. It was in their favor when we did that," said Bayless.
   Happy Valley scored first to open the second period off a drive by Jeremy Maddox, but it didn't take the Cougars defense long to control the quarter.
   The Warriors trailed 46-25 at the break, and things didn't get no easier for them in the third period.
   "You need to get a good start and lead against Coach Bayless. He can hold it on you and make life really tough," said Sullivan Central coach Tony Vaughn.
   Ten of the Warriors' 14 scores came from Jordy Harrison on the inside, but it didn't match the Cougars' great outside shooting with Chris Martin hitting three 3-pointers.
   "I came out and boxed out to get some scores off the board, and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball inside," said Harrison.
   Happy Valley was unsuccessful in making a run in the final period, as Central celebrated its 20th win on the season.
   Harrison led the Warriors in scoring with 20, and Tim Whaley added 12.
   Central had three players in double-digits with Matt Dunsford leading the way with 17, LeSueur adding 15, and Martin finishing with 13.
   "We wanted to come back strong from the North loss and show what the team is capable of, and this was our 20th win, which was a goal for us and we're happy about that," said LeSueur.