HV Middle girls knock off Unaka

By Wes Holtsclaw

   If a team can make things happen off defense, there is a good possibility that it will win the ballgame.
   That was the case Tuesday night at Happy Valley Middle School.
   The Happy Valley Junior Lady Warriors used a tough press and solid inside defense to hold down the Unaka Junior Lady Rangers and capture a 38-16 victory.
   The Lady Warriors (1-3) were held back in a tight game late in the third period before Nicole Hardin opened things up with some key buckets to shift the momentum towards the end.
   "We needed this win after three tough games," said Happy Valley coach Dana Hill. "I thought defensively, we played hard the whole game. Hardin came up with some big shots, and after that we picked it up off the press."
   Unaka took an early 5-2 lead in the game when Dana Williams and Sarah Jones made key buckets. But they were shut out during the remainder of the first period by Happy Valley's defense.
   Hannah Banks got on a scoring spree late in the period with seven of her game-high nine points to help her squad pull away with an 11-5 advantage after one.
   The unit only gave the Lady Rangers five points in the next two periods, with three of those coming from Kayleigh Elsea.
   Amber Dugger and Kristi Ramey sparked Happy Valley's second quarter, taking a 20-8 lead.
   After an Alison McKinney bucket, Hardin brought down three straight buckets for the Lady Warriors in the third period, with her unit pulling out a 19-point lead going into the final minutes.
   A Byers three-pointer and some solid work from Sydney Skeans helped fight down a late Unaka charge keyed by a Kayla Grindstaff trey.
   The Lady Warriors held onto the victory and coach Hill was pleased with the unit's overall effort, especially that of Banks defensively.
   "I can't say enough about them," he said. "Hannah Banks busted her tail up and down the floor tonight. She probably doesn't get enough credit."
   Hardin added eight points for the Lady Warriors, while Dugger downed six. Elsea led Unaka with five.
   Junior varsity
   Happy Valley 39
   Unaka 8
   In the junior varsity contest, Happy Valley held the Lady Rangers to three points in the first three quarters, with a fine team effort leading to a big victory.
   Six different players contributed to the Lady Warriors' big 14-point first quarter, keyed by Skeans. Kelsie Deaton and Autumn Hughes were consistent early, as was Summer Ward and Kacie Wilson.
   Whitney Jarrett had two big buckets in the fourth quarter, with solid defense helping her squad prevail. Unaka got five points in the final period thanks to a pair of buckets from the charity stripe and a trey from Megan Oliver.
   Wilson and Hughes led the game with seven points apiece, while Jarrett and Deaton downed six points.