Johnson County victim on Happy Valley sweep

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   Happy Valley used a 19-2 second half run to blow by Johnson County and win 64-57 in boys' basketball action Monday night at Bayless Gym.
   Tim Whaley was a terror for the Warriors in the run, scoring 10 points, dishing two assists and nabbing two steals. Whaley's 17 points made him the game's high scorer.
   "We got down and we knew we had to come out and play hard," said Whaley. "This was the last home game for our seniors and we had to leave it all out on the floor. We did that. We left it all out on the floor and got the job done."
   However, it was far from any one man effort, whether it was point guard Cody Whitlock breaking the Longhorn press or Bobby Morton and Jordy Harrison battling inside, Happy Valley did what they needed to pick up a sixth win of the season.
   "I thought we played well tonight," said Warrior head coach Charlie Bayless. "We moved the ball well and played fair defense. We made our foul shots when we needed it. We hustled and played well, but we will have to play them (Johnson County) again, the first game of the tournament.
   "I think Whaley played one of his better ballgames, but I think all the boys played well. They kept the game close and when it got down to the nitty-gritty, we wanted to win that one. I think tonight we played up to our potential."
   On the other side, it looked as if the 'Horns were ready to put the game away when Matt Cornett scored to make it 39-32 in favor of the visitors. However, the Longhorns could not stop the Warrior express after Whaley drove down the baseline to score a lay-up.
   "Our players just didn't step up and do the job," said Johnson County coach Austin Atwood. "After they got on that run, Cornett got a couple of bad fouls and as a team we didn't play smart. This is one of the worst games we've played in the last six weeks. We had won nine in a row and maybe this loss will do us some good."
   Inside, the going was tough with Whaley, Morton, Harrison, Andrew Bowman and others locking horns with Johnson County's Cornett, Tommy Short and John Stout.
   "It was a very physical game," said Whaley. "Sometimes, you just have to deal with it. You have to sometimes manage how you are going to play underneath. You know sometimes you're going to get knocked around and bruised and beat up. You just have to take it. That's what you have to do."
   Morton helped the Warriors, who struggled at the charity stripe the last time out against Unaka, by making eight free throws in a ten-point effort.
   "It was the last time, Cody, Steve and me will be here and we played our hearts out," commented Morton. "This was our last home game and we were all determined to go out and play hard. Against Unaka the foul shots killed us, so we all practiced at it and did good at it."
   Other big scoring efforts came from Bowman with 13 points and senior guard Stephen Williams putting in nine. Whitlock scored five as well as running the offense, Harrison's four points and three from Jeremy Maddox and Todd Caldwell, respectively all came all crucial times in the contest.
   The win certainly wasn't easy as HV only led by 12-11 at the end of one quarter and 22-21 at the half. In the middle of the run, the third quarter ended knotted up at 39-apiece, before the Warriors stretched their lead to 51-41 going into the final three and a half minutes.
   The Longhorns had double-digit efforts from Judd Shoun and Cornett, with 16 apiece, and Tommy Short, who hit two shots behind the arc in a 13-point effort. Shoun and Short both made treys in the final minutes and Adam Johnson powered his way inside to keep the pressure on HV.
   It was the last regular season game for Warrior seniors Whitlock, Williams and Morton. They will always have the memories of playing the last time on this floor being winners.
   For the team as a whole, the game's significance meant the Warriors will avoid the "pigtail" game between the bottom two teams in the region as the playoffs start on Friday night. Johnson County will return to action Thursday when they tangle with Unaka.
   Happy Valley 74 (Girls)
   Johnson County 42
   Like the boys, HV's girls ended their home season on a winning note, dominating Johnson County in a 74-42 Watauga Conference win.
   "We played well and ran our offense pretty well," said Lady Warrior head coach Ben Godsey. "We're just trying to get ready for the postseason tournament and end the season on a high note. One thing we did a better job of was filling the lanes and looking up the floor. We were able to utilize our speed and kick it ahead."
   Happy Valley's backcourt was huge on this night as four of their five leading scorers came from the guard positions. Kortney Goulds led the way with 17 points, while Brandi Dugger came up with another outstanding effort with 12 points and making some key assists.
   Not to be overshadowed, Kate Powell scored eight and Mandy Byrd netted seven in the final home game of the season. Perhaps the biggest surprise came with the Warrior interior. Jessica Blevins continued to come off the bench and play well, recording her first double-digit effort of the season with 10 points.
   "I just got some good chances (to score)," said Blevins. "People were making assists and it was all good. We haven't been playing as a team. It was nice to get out there and play and work together. I just tried my best to get out there and help the team."
   About Blevins, Godsey said, "Jessica is coming on for us. If anyone has seen our JV games, you can see how she has improved. She's gotten stronger and has been playing some good defense. She's going to help us and she is really going to be important for us next year."
   The Lady Warriors also saw Terra Whaley score six and Whitney Crowe five in the victory.
   Although Happy Valley had the game in hand the entire way, leading 20-5 at the end of one quarter, 37-18 by halftime and 55-29 going into the final stanza, the Lady Horns never quit.
   With only two wins this season, the Lady Longhorns could have packed up and went home, but instead they fought hard the whole game. Courtney Shaw exemplified the effort scoring 12 points, as Ryan Tillman added nine, Nikki Davidson seven, and Brittany Cole five in the loss.
   "Considering all the obstacles we've had to cross, the effort we are giving is pretty good," said Johnson County head coach Eric Crabtree. "At times, we came out flat and I didn't think it was a good effort defensively, but one good thing I can say is that we kept playing, kept trying.
   "Right now, we have two seniors on the team and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. Some girls have had to step up that aren't really ready yet."
   The win evened up the Lady Warriors record at 12-12, who has one more regular season game scheduled at Sneedville against Hancock County. Unaka is slated to be the final opponent of the regular season against Johnson County on Thursday.