Hunter too strong for  Johnson Co. in LC final 

By Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent
krichardson@starhq.com

   Daniel Swift scored five points in the first quarter of the Little Caesar's championship game at the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County tournament Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, those were the only points Johnson County could manage in the quarter. 
   After one period the Roger Bailey-coached Tigers of Hunter Cadets had managed to blister the nets for 17 points, while their full-court pressure worked to limit Johnson County's offensive production, causing seven turnovers in the first quarter alone.
   "Our press worked pretty good off the bat," said Coach Bailey, whose team went on to register a 51-42 win. "But then Roger (Coach Bailey's son), got himself in foul trouble and we had to back into a zone defense. That's when they got back in the game."
   "We had to play more conservative than we would've liked, because we only have six players," continued Bailey.
   Coach Scott Robinson of Johnson County couldn't have been prouder of his team.
   "Hey, that Hunter team is very good," stated Coach Robinson. "We played well, but we're a young team. So many of our kids are coming back next season, and hopefully they'll be a little taller.
   "If we could have done a little handling the basketball in the first part of the game, and made a few more free throws late, well I think we could've given them a run for their money."
   Coach Robinson was alluding to the seemingly countless turnovers at the quick hands of the Hunter defensive pressure, but also to the weak free-throw shooting by his team.
   If not for Johnson County hitting 9 of 25 charity tosses for the game, the outcome might have been much more highly-contested.
   The game started out in good order for Hunter -- notwithstanding the quick two fouls on Bailey -- but little Joseph Smith kept Johnson County from folding with his ball-handling skills. He also had four steals in the first quarter.
   "That little number 21 can fly," said Coach Bailey. "Man, he was all over the court throughout the game."
   Hunter had an overall height advantage with Bailey, but things evened out beneath the boards with Bailey's foul trouble. 
   Dakota Waters led the Hunter assault throughout the first half, scoring nine points in the first, then added four in the second. His 13 points led all scorers in the first half.
   "I was hitting my shots, and our defense was giving them trouble," said Waters. "We managed to get the little guy (Roger's little brother, Matthew, the youngest player on Hunter's team) a basket. That was the best thing of all today."
   Roger Bailey was a force underneath with over a dozen rebounds, but had to sit out for long periods of time.
   "I'm just glad we won," said Bailey. "We're the champs now."
   Joseph Wilson, younger brother to fledging Unaka High School basketball and softball star, Erica Wilson, scored 15 points, including a long-range three.
   "I'm glad to win the championship," Wilson said. "Coach Roger worked us pretty hard, but he's a good coach."
   Coach Robinson sees better days ahead, but paid tribute to his three departing players.
   "Mark (Jennings), Jeffrey (Tester) and Jason (Dugger) will be moving on," he said. "But these little ones, well, I can't wait to see how they develop.
   Mitchell Hyatt and Matthew (the "little guy") scored two points each for Hunter. 
   Jennings and Dugger were outstanding on offense and defensively. Jennings finished the game with 12 points, while Dugger scored 19 points for Johnson County.
   Waters had a slight ankle sprain in the third quarter, which caused even more concern for Hunter, with Bailey being in foul trouble.
   "He's a tough kid," said Coach Bailey of Waters. "I knew if there was any way possible he'd get back out on the court for the team, and he sure did."
   "Well, we wanted that championship really bad," said Waters. "It (the ankle) will be fine in a couple days. I'll be fine."