Warriors turn up heat in second half, beats EHS

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   BLOUNTVILLE--Happy Valley took home the third-place District 1-AA trophy after a 52-39 consolation victory against Elizabethton Friday evening at Sullivan Central High.
   A close game at the half drifted in the Warriors' favor after a 17-11 third quarter put a nine-point gap on the scoreboard. Alex Carroll controlled inside the paint for Happy Valley in the third, tipping three of his teammate's ricocheting shots back in, and putting up two more from beneath the net for 10 points.
   Steady shooting in the first quarter from Elizabethton kept the game close. The Cyclones started out with a four-point lead after Charles Peters made a field goal and putback.
   Tim Whaley scored a free throw for the Warriors, but Lester Bailey continued on Elizabethton's offense with a jumper that made the score 6-1. Carroll tipped his own shot through the hoop before Derrick Nave answered with a drive from outside that made the score 8-3.
   Andrew Bowman started a Happy Valley run with a free throw with a minute and 24 seconds left that lasted three minutes into the second quarter.
   "They're very good," said Elizabethton coach Tony Hardin. "I think they have a chance to end up in the state tournament. They did some things that hurt us. The consolation game was tough."
   Three-pointers from Nave and Ben Hardin kept the Cyclone score right behind the Warriors, in the second quarter. John Bulla put in four points for Happy Valley in the second to keep Happy Valley in the lead, 20-17, at halftime.
   "I didn't think Elizabethton played up to their potential in the game tonight," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless. "They didn't hit well, and we beat them over the boards. We had close to 20 rebounds."
   The Warriors gain a significant lead in third quarter, as Carroll tipped in shots left and right; two from Bowman, one by Whaley, and a Chris Rutledge three-pointer. Despite two Cyclone treys from Lester Bailey, both in the same minute, Happy Valley had the 37-28 lead going into the last quarter.
   "Mentally, I thought we played hard and we didn't quit. They're very good -- they made more shots than we did," said Coach Hardin. "We're playing with basically one guy that has a lot of experience, and that's Lester. To do what we've done, I think is really amazing. I think we've had a good year considering what we lost from last year, and what we had to learn to do this year."
   Bulla started the Warriors out on the right foot in the fourth, scoring six points in the first few minutes. Adam Turley opened the quarter for Elizabethton by scoring within 28 seconds.
   Nave hit a three for the Cyclones, while Brandon Blevins scored a slam-dunk and a free throw. Carroll answered with an alley-oop seconds later from Todd Caldwell. Carroll put four more points through the hoop for the Warriors to help them on their way to 15 fourth-quarter points.
   "We're bigger than Elizabethton with Alex Carroll," said Coach Bayless. "We had about nine steals, and then because of those steals, we got some baskets. I think we've had a great year. With the way those other boys are playing, Volunteer and Sullivan Central, we just got some lucky breaks and won some games to drive us to the conference."
   Carroll scored a game-high 16 points for Happy Valley, followed by Bulla with 10, and Whaley with nine. Bailey led the Cyclones with 11 points, while Peters and Nave scored eight points each.
   "Looking at the way we started this year, to be in what I call the "big dance" and still be playing and going to region, I think is a huge accomplishment for this team," Coach Hardin said of his Cyclones. "We just go back and refocus, and everybody has got to win now."