Cloudland teams vanquish North

   KINGSPORT--The Sullivan North Golden Raiders got a mouthful of the Cloudland Highlanders in Friday night's Hall of Fame basketball games at Sullivan North High School, as both 'Lander varsity teams went home to Roan Mountain victorious.
  The Lady Highlanders started off slow but came back from a first-half deficit to capture the lead in the second quarter, and went on to post a 34-30 win.
  North got on the board first with three shots from underneath and quick trip to the free throw line for a 7-0 lead with 11-5 lead at the end of the first.
  Nine trips to the foul line in the first half kept the Lady Raiders ahead of the game in with a lot of missed field goals by the Lady Landers.
  "We were a little better in the second half," Lady Highlander head coach Matt Birchfield said. "The first quarter we didn't really play that well. We missed a lot of shots and weren't shooting real well. We got our shots adjusted on the inside. We've got three girls that dress out on varsity that are hurt right now.
  "We don't have a whole lot of depth and we have to be careful. We got into foul trouble a little bit tonight and that hurt us. Hopefully they will get healthy in the next few weeks, get them back and we will be a little deeper on the bench. It's the first game and we have to get the jitters out. North has a good ball club. They have good guards and the big girl inside made it tough. We did play real well I thought with it being so early [in the season]."
  In the third quarter, two fouls on Jessica Lunsford and field goals by Jessica McGuire and Heather Banner got the offense going while the Lady 'Lander defense held North down to six points in the third. Jessica Davis' three-pointer took the lead down to two with a minute left, but Cassandra Haynes' foul on Lunsford tied the game up at the end of the third.
  Banner's three-pointer at the top of the fourth took the lead away altogether, and Cloudland's defense kept the Lady Raiders at only six points to take the win.
  The Lady 'Landers were led by Lunsford, who went 6-of-8 at the line, with 10, and Banner with seven, including one on the outside.
  "I thought we played well defensively," Lady Raider head coach Barry Wade said. "Defense is what gave us a chance to win. We had trouble scoring. I thought we could beat them if we held them to 34 but we just couldn't score.
  "We got into foul trouble and we just can't do that. We're getting better every day. We are young. We only have four seniors. Everybody else is freshmen and sophomores. Hopefully we are playing for the future."
  Highlanders 43
  Golden Raiders 41
  Cloudland took the lead early with a three-pointer by Cody Jones and they held the lead for four quarters thanks to great outside shooting by the 'Landers' team.
  The 'Landers may have had a longer lead if it wasn't for foul trouble plaguing the team. Their five fouls in the first quarter set up the Raiders to earn those easy points at the line, but the 'Lander defense kept the good looks to a minimum.
  The Raiders kept a four-point deficit through the first and second for a 26-22 score at the half.
  North's Derek Williams came up for two at the start of the third for a 26-24 score, but that would be as close to a victory as they would get. Cody Hughes and Luke Sparks both put down outside shots and Jordan Buck down the middle for two for a 34-24 lead.
  The Raiders attempted to halt the 'Lander offense in the fourth quarter by keeping them on the line rather than leaving the door open for more three-pointers. The 'Landers were sent to the line five times in the fourth and went 3-of-8 as a team and were held to five points. Those five points were just enough, however, for the Landers to take a two-point victory to start off the year.
   "We played hard the whole game," head coach Ned Smith said. "I thought our defense looked real well. We need to do a better job on blocking out. We didn't block out to well and we were a little out maned. We shot the ball well. I was real pleased with the outside shots but we have to block out and quit giving up those shots. That will be the big key this year. They have been working hard together. The football players have made a quick transition in and they are working well together. We hope to get Hendry and Pritchard back in soon."
   Jake Hughes lead the Lander squad with 11 points. Only two of those were on the inside. Jones tallied nine points, going 1-of-2 at the line, two shots on the outside and one on the inside.
   For the Raiders team, Williams tallied up 10 points and Jay Vaughn went 2-of-4 at the line and was good for three field goals.
   "We are progressing slowly right now," Golden Raider head coach Matt Baker said. "It was our first scrimmage. We played in a jamboree [Thursday]. We didn't do too bad there but I thought that Cloudland's two-three threw us off a bit. We weren't prepared well for that.
  "We had problems tonight with them being a little smaller and a little quicker. But we are coming around. This is a good game for us especially on learning to play defense a little better. It was a good tune up for the season. This is a veteran group of guys but I would like for them to communicate better on the defensive end.