'Landers rally past Bulldogs in fourth quarter

By Allen LaMountain


   Billy Idol wrote a tune about his so-called 'Charmed Life', but the Cloudland Highlanders proved that they lead charmed lives of their own, as the 'Landers twice erased big Hampton leads in tripping the Bulldogs 48-47 on Monday night at Sonny Smith gym.
   Cloudland improved to 7-1 on the season, while Hampton dropped to 7-5 on the year with the loss.
   Hampton opened the contest with a 13 point run before the 'Landers even cracked the scoreboard, but Cloudland then scored 10 of the next 11 points scored by both teams to cut the Hampton lead to 14-10 after one period.
   The 'Dogs took a 24-15 lead going into the break as Cloudland shot just four-of-24 from the floor (16.7 percent) in the first half, while Hampton shot a red-hot 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) and held a clear rebounding edge on the 'Landers.
   Cloudland whittled the 'Dogs lead down to 35-29 going into the final stanza, with a swarming defense that forced Hampton into 17 turnovers.
   "We had too many turnovers," said Hampton head coach Jerry White. "You can't win turning the ball over like that. We needed to have better shot selection in situations that arose for us. We didn't do that."
   'Lander super-sophomore Mark Byrd converted a three-point play to open the fourth quarter, but Ryan Deskins hit a pair of free throws to put Hampton up 39-32.
   Kyle Jones and Kevin Harrison traded buckets twice as Hampton maintained it's seven-point advantage at 43-36, but back-to-back buckets by Kevin Jones and Caleb Denton cut the 'Dogs lead to 43-40.
   "We started out very badly," said Cloudland head coach Ned Smith. "We shot real poorly early on. Then we really got after them defensively in the second half. That helped us get some better shots (in transition)."
   After a Deskins free throw, Robbie Tolley canned a deuce and Kyle Jones converted after steal at mid-court to tie the game at 44-44 and send the 'Landers home crowd into a frenzy.
   With a little over three minutes left Hampton's Matthew Campbell knocked down a big trey, but Kevin Jones hit a two-pointer and Byrd followed with a steal and a driving bucket to give Cloudland it's only lead of the night at 48-47.
   The Jones brothers, Kyle and Kevin led the Cloudland scoring with 16 and 12 points respectively, while also collecting three steals each.
   Ryan Deskins scored a game-high 21 points and collected 15 rebounds on the night for the 'Dogs.
   Hampton .....................48
   The Lady Bulldogs got a boost from some super three-point shooting from Kelly Shoun -- who knocked down six-of-eight trey's -- while leading all scorers with 21 points off the bench to lead Hampton to a 48-45 come from behind win.
   "We played better defense in the second half," said Shoun. "We went into a 2-1-2 zone, and that helped us get better shots on offense."
   The Lady 'Landers led the game throughout, but fell in the late going as Hampton scored 34 second half points to complete the comeback.
   Cloudland led 23-14 at halftime, but some sharp-shooting from Shoun and tough rebounding and defense inside by Cindy Hyatt helped get the Lady 'Dogs back into the contest, taking a 31-29 lead going into the final period.
   Taukia Hughes buried a deuce and Natasha Benfield knocked down a triple sandwiched between a pair of free throws by Shoun to make it a 34-33 Cloudland lead.
   Shoun and Benfield traded trey's, but at the 1:10 mark Kari Stout hit a bucket to give Hampton a one-point lead at 46-45. With 17 seconds left Stout canned two free throws to extend the Lady 'Dogs to a 48-45 lead and Hampton held on for the win.
   "Hampton adjusted it's defense well, and held us to just six points in the third quarter," said Lady 'Lander head coach Matt Birchfield. "Their zone defense hurt us and we didn't shoot real well from outside. They had a good game The Shoun girl hurt us, she's a good shooter, and we let her get loose a couple of times and she put the nail in the coffin."