Bulldogs spill Highlanders

Trailing much of way, Hampton takes command in fourth period

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Bulldogs trailed for the first three quarters of action at VanHuss-White Gym Thursday night, but when it was time to step up and take control, then Hampton answered the challenge by dominating the final period with a 61-53 victory.
   "We played better defense in the second half by getting out on the three-point shooters, and when you play good defense then your shots seem to fall a little more," said Hampton coach Bud Hazelwood. "We took some good shots there, and a lot of times teams get on a roll, then there's not much the other team can do."
   Hampton fell behind in the contest during the first period, but never quite let the 'Landers get too far out of sight.
   Trailing by four points heading into the fourth quarter, Hampton caught fire by draining five three-point goals and obtaining as much as a 15-point advantage in the final minutes.
   It was senior night at Hampton, and what better fitting than to see the Bulldogs senior Zack Trivette get the first two points of the evening with a shot inside.
   "It felt great to me to go out and score the first bucket of the game," said Trivette. "I think that caused everybody to step it up in starting the game like that. This is the best time to start playing ball, and if we can continue to play like we have, then we have a chance of making it to the state."
   Hampton held a slim 13-12 advantage after Jacob Culler sank a couple of free throws, but an offensive spark from Jake Hughes late in the action gave the 'Landers a 17-13 lead at the end of the first.
   Cloudland managed to hold on to the lead through the next two periods.
   All of the 'Landers' second-quarter points came from Aaron Stocton, who finished the night with 10 points.
   The 'Landers built an eight-point lead with 3:14 left in the half, but a three-point goal from Trivette and shot off the glass from Shane Campbell cut the deficit to 25-22 at the break.
   After being held scoreless through the first two periods, Robbie Tolley came alive in the third to spark the 'Landers with 10 points.
   Hampton had done a good job defending the big guy, but Tolley was unstoppable with the short turnaround jumper.
   The Bulldogs had trouble containing Tolley during that period, but they still kept the contest close with a couple of nice plays from Campbell.
   A three-point goal from Campbell and a no-look pass to Trivette inside, resulting in a bucket, tied the game at 31-31 with four minutes left.
   "Adam started off slow, so I was glad I could come in and hit some shots to get everyone hype up," said Campbell. "I seen Zack cut out of the corner of my eye, and I just threw it and there he was. We feel like we can beat anybody in our league right now, and I know we can."
   Campbell led all scores with 18 points on the night, while Trivette finished with nine points.
   Cloudland took a 39-35 lead at the end of the third period, when Tolley nailed a turnaround baseline jumper with time expiring.
   At this point, the Bulldogs managed to keep the game close, but they hadn't been able to wrestle away the lead since the first period.
   "They did a good job of working inside tonight, and our outside shots didn't fall for us," said Cloudland coach Ned Smith. "We made some mistakes and we'll go over them and try to come back Tuesday night. That'll be a big game for us."
   A three-point goal from Alex Ingram to start the fourth quarter was the early sign of more good things to come for Hampton.
   Lucas Honeycutt popped another three-pointer from long range as the Bulldogs tied the contest at 41-41 with 5:47 left in regulation.
   After going silent most of the night, senior Adam Miller nailed back to back three-point goals to give the 'Dogs an eight-point advantage.
   Cloudland went on a dry spell for nearly five minutes during the final period, as an early baseline jumper from Craig Cooke was the only offense from Cloudland until a three from Cody Jones with 1:31 left to play.
   "We took some bad shots -- we didn't get our feet set like we should have," said Smith. "We need to work on being a little more patient."
   Campbell added the last three-point goal of the quarter for Hampton, which had come out and knocked down a total of five threes to blow the game wide-open on a 21-2 run.
   "They went to a zone, then Travis, Shane, and Zack all hit three-point shots," said Hazelwood. "Even Adam hit a couple of threes there and I don't think he had hardly scored until then, and when they all hit some shots that made them step it up on the defense and Cloudland only got one shot then."
   Hampton will next play Unicoi County in the District 1-AA Tournament on Saturday at 8 p.m., while Cloudland faces University High in the 1-A tourney Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
   "I'm proud of them," Hazelwood said of his players. "They could have laid down early in the season, but hopefully this gives us momentum heading into the tournament Saturday night."