Unaka, CHS open with flourish

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   The single-A county girls squads went two up.
   Going against inner-county rivals Hampton and Happy Valley, Unaka and Cloudland pulled off good wins in the Lady Warrior Thanksgiving Classic in the two late games on Wednesday night.
   Unaka opened with a 47-34 victory over Hampton, while Cloudland had a solid second half performance in a 66-21 victory over the Lady Warriors.
   Hampton and Unaka battled hard against each other in their contest. After an 11-8 first period, Unaka turned on the jets with a big second quarter, led by Renee Ensor's 10 points.
   Big play from Julie Roberson and Heather Taylor helped the Lady Rangers hold Hampton to four points in the period, taking a strong 30-12 lead at the end of the half.
   Joy Gardner and Heather Chambers helped carry the Lady Bulldogs back in the second half with a strong defensive effort. Kelly Taylor had Unaka's lone bucket, while Lacey Oliver and Lauren Pittman executed well on defense.
   Trailing by 13 going into the final frame, Hampton battled hard with a tough 10-point sway from Chambers. However, Unaka was simply tough with a solid team effort, holding Hampton to a 47-34 win.
   "We got a little tired and got pushed around," said Unaka coach Ken Chambers after a lackluster second half. "We missed some shots and didn't run the floor as well as we wanted. Hampton just played harder, and we thought it was over."
   Renee Ensor led the Lady Rangers with her 16 points in the contest.
   "She played like that all summer, and she hasn't been playing as well lately," Chambers said. "She came out of that tonight. She's a great point guard, and can be anything she wants to be on the court."
   "The whole team played hard tonight. There were some good things out there, they hustled and did a real good job."
   Heather Chambers had 15 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
   CLOUDLAND 66
   HAPPY VALLEY 21
   The final contest of the evening sported a solid first quarter, then solid defense and scoring became pivotal for Cloudland.
   Crystal Nave, Brandi Dugger, Terra Whaley and Kate Powell all had a bucket in the first quarter for Happy Valley in the contest, as they battled to a lead early over Cloudland.
   The Lady Highlanders roared back with some solid shooting from Amy Storie and Holly Blair to take an 11-8 edge.
   The Lady Warriors sank five of 14 foul shots in the second quarter, while Cloudland started to roll behind Tara Hanson and April Williams taking a 27-13 lead after the first half.
   Cloudland outscored Happy Valley 39-8 in the second half, holding the Lady Warriors scoreless in the fourth quarter.
   Nikki Webb and Stachia Johnson came on strong for the Lady 'Landers in the second half, while fouls and turnovers plagued the Lady Warriors en route to Cloudland's 66-21 win.
   "I thought the defense looked real well," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield. "We got some good turnovers and baskets in the second half-and played real good late."
   Hanson led Cloudland with 15 points while Storie, Johnson, and Williams all had 10 for their team.
   "Tara made some big baskets and Amy came up big with a lot of rebounds," Birchfield said. "It was important that every one that could come in scored for us. That will be good for you."
   "Happy Valley's got a good team, they got with us early. We just had a real good effort and made some clutch free throws."