Defense fuels Lady Bulldog win over HV

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR Staff
mbirchfield@starhq.com
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships, which was the mind-set of the Lady Bulldogs as they outdueled Happy Valley in a 46-38 final on Thursday night at VanHuss-White Gym.
Defense down the stretch was the key to Hampton's success, after slowing up the Lady Warriors' inside game.
Hampton streaked out to a seven-point lead in the first period, when Lacey Oliver and Joy Gardner nailed back-to-back three-point goals.
"They all shot well in the first half. Laci hit one and Joy made a few, and it was pretty much a total team effort," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell. "We worked in practice on defending them inside and didn't let their outside shooters get hot, either. We had excellent help defense, also."
Happy Valley came back with a couple of baskets down low from Tera Whaley and Mandy Byrd to cut the deficit to 14-11 at the end of the first.
The 'Dogs led 22-17 with 3:30 left, after Heather Chambers nailed an outside jumper and scored on a putback off the offensive board.
Happy Valley managed to grab the lead before half, knocking down three of four shots from the free-throw line.
"We got off to a rough start in the first quarter, and I thought we battled back nice and had some good looks in the second quarter after falling behind by as many as seven," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey. "I thought we were pretty patient in the first half and created some turnovers with our press."
Brandi Dugger made a steal and basket to start the second half for the Warriors, but a 'Dogs 8-2 run, which included a turnaround jumper from Jessi Price, gave Hampton a five-point advantage with three minutes left.
"I figure since I'm not going to score that many points, then the least I can do is play defense," said Price. "It's like our coach tells us, offense sells tickets but defense wins ball games, so what we did was play defense and we won."
Hampton enjoyed a 31-26 to start the final period, but two quick buckets inside from Keila Williams cut the margin to within one.
The 'Dogs went on a 9-2 run from that point, as Chambers busted a three to lead Hampton in scoring on the night with 16 points.
"They hit some threes on us, and nine turnovers in the second half killed us," said Godsey. "We weren't patient in the third quarter and that's when we had all of our turnovers."
It was the defense on the interior that enabled Hampton to hold off the Warrior charge, as both Williams and Whaley were held to under 10 points each.
"In the second half Jessi Price played well -- she got some key rebounds and some key steals the fourth quarter," said Campbell. "She didn't have that many points, but on the defensive end she got it done."
Hampton executed from the free-throw line down the stretch by hitting 10 out of its last 12 shots.
The victory moves Hampton into fourth place in the conference standings, with one conference game remaining against Johnson County, at home, tonight.
Happy Valley drops to fifth with a record of 7-7 in conference action and 11-12 overall.
"You can have a bad offensive night, but you can't have a bad defensive one," said Price. "We're really pumped up and ready for the conference tournament because it'll be a whole new season."