Lady 'Dogs win in debut of reformed Watauga Conference

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF

   KINGSPORT -- New league entry Hampton highlighted the reformed Watauga Conference Tuesday night at Sullivan North High School with a 24-14 win over Elizabethton at the annual girls' basketball jamboree.
   Jody Stout hit three shots behind the arc for 9 of her game-high 13 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs.
   "I know we need to be more aggressive," remarked Hampton head coach Leslie Campbell. "We have to get our post players scoring. They're not confident yet, but hopefully they will get there.
   "We should have Kelly (Shoun) and Alison (Pierce) back soon. But, I'm hoping the young players will step up now and when their numbers are called, they will get the job done. I feel we can compete. It's up to the kids, how much they want to do and how far they want to go."
   Joy Gardner added another trey for Hampton in a five-point effort, while Lacy Lane and freshman Rikki Baughman each led the Lady Cyclones with four points apiece.
   While the game was a successful head coaching debut for Campbell, it wasn't a true loss for Elizabethton. The score was tied 12-12 when head coach Mike Wilson pulled his starters from the floor.
   "Basically, we just wanted to play everybody," said Wilson. "I think we can play with people in this league. The objective tonight was not so much to win, but we wanted to play everybody, have a good time and learn some things about the other teams."
  
   Unicoi County 25, Happy Valley 20
   Rachel Oler scored eight points to lead the Lady Devils to the victory over the Lady Warriors. HV took an early lead on a three-pointer by Kandra Roberts before Oler hit back-to-back buckets to put Unicoi ahead.
   The Lady Devils pulled out to a nine-point advantage behind consecutive treys by Stephanie Byrd and Megan Headley then survived a late Happy Valley rally.
   The contest still provided a bright spot for the Lady Warriors, who saw the margin between HV and Unicoi significantly shrink from last season.
   "I'm pleased with the way we peformed," said Warrior head coach Ben Godsey. "I'm still not pleased with our rebounding, that's the one area that we're still not up to par. That's something we will work on tommorrow.
   "I thought we played a little more relaxed handling Unicoi's defensive pressure than we had in the past."
  
   Volunteer 28, Johnson County 16
   Going on a 13-0 run to end the contest the Lady Falcons spoiled the coaching debut of new Lady Longhorn skipper Eric Crabtree. Joy Dobbs scored 10 points and Meghan Arnold added six to pace Volunteer.
   The end of the game overshadowed tough interior play by Elena Owens, who tried to scoop up every rebound in sight. Jessica Townsend and Nikki Davidson each had four points for Johnson County in the defeat.
   "We had spots where everybody played good," remarked Crabtree. "Elena did some good things. Everyone did good things here and there. We just have to be more discliplined on offense.
   "We never got the post involved in our offense. We kept changing things up, but we never got in a rhythm. We can't live and die by the three. The good thing is that every team has a lot of work to do. The positive is we know we're going to get better every day."
  
   Sullivan Central 23, Sullivan North 20
   The Lady Cougars won the nightcap as Lauren Burke went wild on the basket to the tune of nine points. Amber Salley added eight points to Central's efforts.
   Courtney Ramey had nine points to lead the Lady Raiders in the loss.