Middle schools tune up with basketball jamboree

By C.Y. Peters

STAR CORRESPONDENT

   Good pizza, fresh popcorn, a packed house and lots of action took place last night in the middle school tip-off jamboree held at Happy Valley Middle School.
   If you didn't arrive early, you had to stand.
   In the first game Coach Ronnie Street's Hampton Lady Bulldogs looked like they had practiced all summer, they didn't miss a beat.
   Lauren Pitman blistered the nets for 10 points, while Lacey Oliver and Kendra Trivette followed with six each as the 'Dogs defeated the Central Comets 27-6.
   Coach Street said: "They played hard and played as a team. We've got to work on a lot of things before the season starts."
   In the second game of the night Chris Rutledge and the Central Comets showed the teams in Carter County not to overlook Coach Lamont Barnett's squad.
   In two quarters they defeated the Hampton Bulldogs 18-11.
   Rutledge hit two of the teams three 3-pointers in pulling off the first upset of the year. John Potter, Alex Ingram and Jordan Honeycutt just finished up with football and may be a few weeks behind on the court. One thing is for sure, they won't take the Comets lightly.
   The next matchup had the Johnson County girls going up against T.A. Dugger's seventh-grade team.
   There's been a lot of talk about this seventh-grade team and now we know why. TAD defeated the Longhorns 20-12.
   There's some good talent on this Lady Cyclone outfit and they move the ball well. They really work as a team. Victoria Hopson led the Jr. Cyclones with eight while April McCloud scored six for Johnson County.
   Game four featured the T.A. Dugger Cyclones against the Johnson County boys. This also was a good game, with the Jr. Cyclones pulling this game out in the end, winning 23-14. Michael Rader led 'Betsy with eight points followed by J.C. Atkinson with six.
   Brock Woodring was high for Johnson County with four.
   From there, the host Happy Valley girls went up against the T.A. Dugger's eighth-grade team. Katie Hubbard was the big difference in this game, lighting up the scoreboard with 10 points and leading the Lady Cyclones to a 23-14 win over the home team.
   Cameron Crapps scored eight points for 'Betsy, with Amber Duncan picking up five for Happy Valley.
   Jamie Payne scored three straight baskets in the last 23 seconds for Little Milligan, but it was too little too late for the Buffaloes as the Happy Valley seventh-grade team dominated this game, winning 31-12.
   Coach David Shankle's team received good play from Brandon Whitehead, Daniel Shankle and Brandon McCloud. Tony Carr and Matt Miller ruled the boards for the Warriors. They have a tough seventh-grade team.
   Little Milligan's girls were no match for Jordan Muratore and the Lady Tigers of Hunter. Muratore pumped in 14 points to lead Hunter to an 18-11 win over the Buffaloes.
   Little Milligan scored first and got six points from Danielle Gilbert but Muratore couldn't be stopped on this night. Sally Taylor scored four for Hunter.
   In the main event the home team Warriors took on the Unaka Rangers. Both teams looked a little rusty, Happy Valley in the first half and Unaka in the second.
   The Warriors turned the ball over nine times in the opening quarter, including five of the first six possessions.
   In the second quarter Unaka turned the ball over eight times and missed out on four good scoring opportunities.
   The Rangers would make only six of 14 foul shots in the two-quarter game, while the Warriors shot seven of seventeen. The Rangers fouled 13 times and Happy Valley eight.
   Unaka jumped out to an early lead on baskets by Tee Blevins and Aaron Greer. Greer delighted the crowd with a circus shot that just missed.
   The Warriors would fight back as Ryan May hit four straight foul shots and Drew Davis connected on two field goals. Happy Valley would hold a 14-11 first-quarter edge.
   In the second, May powered rebounds and scored basket after basket, and went on to lead the Warriors with 12 points in the 27-24 HV win.
   Kyle Estep stole the ball twice in the final seconds and scored, but missed on a last second shot after his third steal. Estep and Greer topped the Rangers with eight each, Blevins followed with five. Davis scored seven for Happy Valley.
   All and all it was a good night of basketball. The regular season starts this week with most teams starting their season next week.
   This should be a very interesting year in both large and small school play.