Lady 'Landers roll over North Greene

By DALLAS COOK
STAR STAFF

   In their first conference game of the season the Cloudland Lady Highlanders took on the Lady Huskies of North Greene in what was supposed to be a competitive game.
   The Highlanders (6-2, 1-0) had other plans though as they routed the Huskies (1-7, 1-2) by the final of 70-39 behind the play of senior Taukia Hughes.
   "We started out a little bit slow," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield. "We were a little sluggish on defense but I felt like our intensity picked up."
   Cloudland jumped out to an early 10-4 lead on three free throws by Hughes and a three pointer from Tara Hanson to give the Highlanders the momentum.
   The Huskies though regrouped to comeback and tie the game up at 15-15 as Sheila Wine hit a jump shot with a little over a minute to play in the quarter.
   The Highlanders though used scores from Amanda McKinney and Amy Storie to take a 20-15 lead going into the second quarter.
   "We came out and performed at the level we wanted to on offense," said Hughes. "I think we really need to work on our defense."
   Just when things couldn't get any worse for the Huskies, foul trouble began to come into play as they were having to substitute in and out which gave the Cloudland starters room to do the damage.
   Hughes netted seven more points in the second quarter including a buzzard beating three pointer to end the half while Natasha Benfield drained a three pointer earlier to give the Highlanders a 36-22 halftime lead.
   "Those three from Taukia (Hughes), Natasha (Benfield) and Tara (Hanson) really led us on," said Birchfield. "Tara really picked up the intensity and got her motivation going."
   After coming out of the lockerroom after the half, Cloudland just continued to pour it on the Huskies with Hughes adding nine more including her second three pointer on the night as the Highlanders never looked back.
   "We pretty much stuck to the same gameplan except for changing our press just a little bit," Birchfield said. " We didn't change a whole lot we just needed to pick up the intensity and pushing the ball in our transition game."
   Defensively Cloudland held the Huskies to just 17 points in the second half as they utilized their quickness to force North Green to turn the ball over.
   "I thought we were well matched up with them defensively," Birchfield said. "Taukia helped us out on the inside and Holly (Blair) hit some big shots for us on the outside."
   Hanson also gave Cloudland a lift with seven points in the half while teammates Holly Blair and Benfield added four each.
   North Greene hung in their though as Sheila Wine led the way for the Huskies with fifteen points while Patricia Penley contributed nine of her own.
   For Cloudland Hughes finished the night with 21 points and nine rebounds while Hanson tallied 16 points along with five rebounds and four steals. Blair and Storie both finished out with eight points.
   "Taukia is real strong with the basketball," Birchfield said. "She was looking to score and we have to have that each night."
   Also for the Highlanders Nikki Webb, Crystal Arnold, Rebecca Clawson and McGuire each chipped in two points apiece with Webb hauling in seven rebounds and Clawson four.
   "We all worked together really hard," said Hughes. "We got eachother the shots. I'm really proud of my team this year and I have confidence in each player."
   Boys
   North Greene.....52
   Cloudland...........80

   Later in the boys game Cloudland fed off of 24 Huskie turnovers to knock off North Greene 80-52 in Watauga Valley Conference play.
   The Highlanders (6-1, 1-0) jumped out to a 17-0 lead over the Huskies (2-7, 2-2) as senior Kevin Jones prevailed his team with 17 points in the game.
   "I was pleased with our press," said Cloudland coach Ned Smith. "I thought that was the key to beating North Greene. They have some big shooter but we were able to stop them."
   The game was never even close as the Highlanders drubbed the Huskies up and down the floor to cap off their first conference victory.
   It was 43-27 at the break and 59-39 after three quarters of play.
   Kyle Jones and Robby Tolley also added to the Cloudland cause with 12 points each while Mark Byrd (11 pts) and Josh Johnson (10 pts) also turning in stellar performances defensively.
   "All week we knew we were going to have to play big," said Kevin Jones. "Coach said to just come out and knock down the shots and we did. The team played great."
   For North Greene Justin Evan was tops with 20 points and four rebounds while Josh Hickman added 14 points of his own.