Unicoi County withstands Hampton

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   The Hampton Bulldog basketball program has always displayed solid effort, and on Senior Night 2003 maximum hustle was nearly enough to secure a pair of wins from the visiting Unicoi County Blue Devils.
   The Lady Bulldog squad, a considerable underdog, made a strong showing against the conference front-runner. Foul trouble, and a strong overtime performance by the Lady Devils resulted in a 65-61 Unicoi victory, the 499th win for Devil skipper Glenn Fisher.
   Despite the heartbreaking loss, Hampton coach Leslie Campbell was pleased with her team's effort and hopes the momentum will lead into the tournament.
   "I'm pleased with the hustle," Campbell said. "I wish we would have played this hard all year."
   Trailing 18-12 after the first period, the Bulldogs endured some sloppy offensive play, and pulled to within four heading to halftime.
   With defensive rebounding a decisive advantage for Unicoi County, it seemed as if the Lady Bulldogs could not mount a serious threat against the Devil lead.
   The second half would force Hampton to play to their absolute potential, and that is exactly what they did. Campbell was forced to call time out as the Lady Devils started the third quarter with four consecutive points.
   Hampton pulled back with the perimeter shooting of Kristi Clark. However Joy Gardner had to sit with her fourth foul at the 2:44 mark of the third period.
   Strong play from Heather Chambers picked up the slack as Hampton pulled even 40-40 heading to the fourth period.
   Clark gave Hampton the lead halfway through the fourth period with a big trey, as the home grandstands erupted.
   The Lady Devils needed a big play and got it from Amber Bailey. Bailey would steal the next Hampton inbounds pass and convert on the lay-up to silence the Bulldog faithful and tie the contest at 50.
   Overtime seemed imminent as both teams traded foul shots until Gardner tied the contest for the final time with three seconds remaining.
   In the extra period the Lady Devils crept away with the win as Gardner picked up her fifth foul on a three-point play by Meghan Headley.
   Although Hampton would threaten late, they could not seal the gap and fell to the Devils by four points.
   Campbell is looking forward to tournament play after the strong showing her team displayed.
   "We were finally aggressive for four quarters," Campbell said. "I hope we keep it coming."
   Candace Shelton was tops for Unicoi, scoring 21 points. She was followed by Headley with 18 and Bailey with 13.
   Clark shined for the Lady 'Dogs, totaling 18 points on six 3-pointers. Lauren Pittman added 10 and Gardner nine.
   Unicoi County 67
   Hampton 64
   The boys matchup promised to be a real showdown as Unicoi County has its eyes on conference seeding, while the Bulldogs have begun to gel en route to the district tournament.
   The first half belonged to Unicoi as it secured a 10-point first-quarter lead on the strength of inside power, and perimeter prowess by Michael Price.
   Price would go on to lead the Devils with 22 points, going 10 of 10 from the foul line in the second half.
   The second quarter saw a spark of life from the Bulldogs as Adam Miller posted seven points in the quarter, while Hampton closed to within eight points at halftime.
   The Bulldogs hung tough in the third as well, until a mental miscue by Jacob Moss cost the Bulldogs a technical foul. The foul resulted in a six-point swing against the Dogs.
   Trailing 47-40 going into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs put together a gutsy effort. Jacob Culler came up big as he scored seven points on three trips down the floor, forcing Devil coach John English to call time with six minutes to play.
   With around three minutes to play in the game, Michael McCall tied the game for the 'Dogs, but that was all she wrote for the Bulldogs.
   Strong foul shooting for Unicoi would slam the door shut, as Hampton swallowed a bitter 67-64 loss.
   Bulldog coach Bud Hazelwood remained upbeat after the game.
   "We played hard, and had one of our best offensive games of the season," Hazelwood said. "We're playing better, and next week everybody is 0-0, Anything can happen."
   Chris Brown chalked up 13 points for the Devils, who got 10 points from Jonathan Grindstaff.
   Greg Osborne paced the 'Dogs with a 15-point effort. Culler netted 10.