Lady 'Dogs top North,  Hampton boys lose

By Wes Holtsclaw

   KINGSPORT -- It wasn't pretty early, but the ending was all too sweet for the Hampton Lady Bulldogs.
   In a contest that the Lady 'Dogs led 11-8 after the first half, the Sullivan North Lady Raiders bounced back and took a lead in the contest before a late rally gave Hampton a big 49-39 Watauga Conference victory on the road Thursday night.
   The Lady Bulldogs only scored one point in the second quarter, but they worked on their offensive game plan and it showed late in the contest.
   "We just talked about it at the half," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell. "It wasn't a pretty win, but we wanted it to evolve over onto tomorrow night. We wanted to step it up, play good and go from there."
   The Lady Bulldogs didn't rely on any certain player in the contest, as three players netted double digits. Lacy Oliver led all scorers with 13 points in the contest, while Lauren Pittman and Heather Chambers added 11 and 10, respectively.
   "We used quite a few players tonight," Campbell said. "We don't look for one person and that's okay as long as one of the others get hot."
   Both teams displayed their defense in the first half.
   Hampton held North scoreless through the first six minutes of the opening period, while Oliver got them rolling offensively. North returned the favor, holding Hampton to one Pittman point from the charity stripe.
   Both teams got underway in the third quarter, especially Lady Raider Courtney Ramey, who scored seven points in the frame. Pittman and Chambers kept the Lady 'Dogs in check with North going into the final period.
   Amanda Fraiser and Traci Benard gave North its lone lead early in the fourth before Hampton toppled them. Joy Gardner and Jessica Tolley made big buckets in the period as Hampton outscored North 22-12 en route to their win.
   Lindsey Collins led North with 12 points.
   Hampton continues play tonight against Johnson County in a 6:30 p.m. play-in contest in the opening round of the District 1-AA tournament at Elizabethton High.
   Sullivan North 73
   Hampton 61
   Officials can be a team's worse enemy. Just ask the Hampton Bulldogs after the third quarter of Thursday's outing on the road against the Sullivan North Golden Raiders.
   Trailing by eight at the half, Hampton roared back within four points of North. However, eight huge fouls were called against the 'Dogs, while none were called against North.
   In a stretch where three blatant charges occurred from the home team, the officials simply turned the other way while North evened Hampton's scoring and went on to win 73-61.
   The calls seemed to lower the morale of the Hampton bench each time they appeared to make a run.
   Hampton coach Bud Hazelwood said: "I'm not crying sour grapes, but there was a big discrepancy when it was a four-point game. It breaks your back sometimes."
   But the Golden Raiders proved why they are one of the hottest teams in the area right now with a big all-around shooting attack from Michael Buchanan and C.J. Minnick that took advantage of the situations they were given.
   "They are the hottest team in the conference right now," Hazelwood said. "They are a good offensive team. We played well at times, but I wasn't pleased with giving up 41 points in the first half. We got impatient a time or two. We'll have decent chance tomorrow."
   North rallied in the first half behind shooting from Buchanan and Phillip Scarselone. Hampton got four big buckets from Michael McCall and a pair of deuces from Shane Campbell to make a solid run.
   North continued to make due with buckets from Minnick and Lance Carter, while Hampton relied on Josh Moss, Greg Osborne and Mitchell Morton down the stretch.
   "We basically tried to play base man and did a good job in the first half," said Raider coach John McCrary. "We switched it up in the second half. Hampton's a team of the future. They made young mistakes, but they'll have a good team down the road."
   Buchanan and Scarselone had 22 and 21, respectively for North, while Minnick tallied 13. Morton led Hampton with 11.
   "Buchanan shot nine of nine tonight," McCrary said. "That was big for us. When we shoot and rebound decent, we are a decent team."
   The victory give North a fourth-place seed in the 1-AA district tourney, where they will face Volunteer on Monday, while the Bulldogs take on Unicoi County tonight at 8.