Motivated Lady 'Dogs down North

By Jeff Birchfield

   KINGSPORT -- A third-quarter benching was Leslie Campbell's motivational tool. Hampton's starters responded with a 42-34 win over Sullivan North Tuesday night.
   Frustrated with a 7-2 Sullivan North run in the game's middle stages against her team's starters, Campbell pulled all five players off the court and put in reinforcements.
   The result was that the reserves held their own, while the starters fidgeted on the sidelines. Back in the game, the Lady Bulldog starting five outscored North 19-4 in the final quarter.
   "I think when that second five was put in, it gave us a boost," said Campbell. "I put a lot on our fortunes on Jessi Price's shoulders, Danielle Gilbert with her defense and rebounding and Pam Montgomery with her defense."
   Why the reason for the benching? After jumping out to a lead of 11-7 at the end of the first quarter, Hampton had fallen behind 20-17 at the half. In the third quarter, the sluggish start put them five back at 24-19.
   Once inserted into the game, the reserves held their own keeping North's lead at five, 30-25, entering the final quarter.
   "We started the game strong and then we quit," said Campbell. "We didn't get a spark until we put that second group in. They played hard. The others saw that and they decided to play."
   One starter who came alive in the fourth quarter was guard Heather Chambers. She scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in those final minutes.
   "We needed to get back in the game with some emotion," said Chambers. "That benching got us fired up and ready. The second group did a good job, but we kept bugging her (Campbell) to put us back in."
   One starter's effort Campbell could not fault was Lauren Pitman. While her offensive numbers showed only five points, she effectively shut down North star Amanda Frazier most of the game.
   During the time Pitman was on the bench with the rest of Hampton's starters, Montgomery stayed tight on Frazier. Their combined efforts resulted in only nine points for Frazier.
   Another key individual effort from Hampton came from Price, who netted nine points. More impressive is that you could visibly see her mature during the ballgame. She blossomed from a tentative player in the first quarter to a confident player in the third quarter.
   "We got some momentum going," said Price about herself and the other reserves. "We all wanted to win, that's what we're in for. We kept it going like we were supposed to. It was just wanting to win and to help the team."
   Joy Gardner added five points in Hampton's win, with Jessica Tolley tallying four.
   For North, its effort was spectacular considering it was missing three starters due to injuries and a fourth, Cortney Ramey played with a hurt wrist.
   The Lady Raiders actually had five freshmen on the floor at one time near the end of the first half.
   "Our girls played hard," said Lady Raider head coach Barry Wade. "We had three starters out and Ramey wasn't 100 percent, but they all played hard. We were just as deserving to win as they were."
   Ashley Moore scored eight points and Ramey added six for North, which fell to 3-9 in the Watauga Conference and 9-15 overall.
   Hampton improved to records of 6-6 and 10-9 with its next league game scheduled for Thursday against Happy Valley.