Bulldogs nudges past 'Landers, 73-69

By Dallas Cook
STAR Staff

   When the Cloudland Highlanders and Hampton Bulldogs hook up for a basketball game you might as well throw out the stat book and records for these two.
   In the consolation bracket of the McClain's-Shoun's Invitational at Hampton High School, the Bulldogs hosted the Highlanders after both teams suffered losses on Tuesday.
   Hampton (8-5) showed that the performance they turned in against Laurinburg was no joke as they knocked off Cloudland (7-3) by the score of 73-69.
   "In spots we did pretty well and in other spots we didn't," said Hampton coach Jerry White. "We had some turnovers that we shouldn't have had but you take a win anyway you can. We just have to do a better job protecting the lead."
   The Bulldogs came out and took control of the floor as Zack Ensor, Grant Honeycutt and Kevin Harrison all connected from three-point range to give their team a 23-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
   "They're capable of having good games," said White of his players. "We didn't go to the offensive boards like we should but Cloudland did a real good job tonight."
   Cloudland, though, would finally get the ball rolling on offense as Kevin Jones netted six of his 14 points on the evening in the second quarter to cut the lead down 31-28.
   "We played hard and hustled the whole time," Cloudland coach Ned Smith said. "Coach White just outcoached me, and anytime you have a tight game against him he's going to get you at the end."
   Kyle Jones then hit a jump shot with time running low to make it a one-point game, but Matt Campbell of Hampton put the Bulldogs up by three going into the locker room at halftime.
   "I was pleased with our defensive effort," said Smith. "We got down in the first half but I was proud of the way our guys fought back. We just have to learn how to start out better."
   Up 33-30 going into the second half Hampton continued to pour it on the Highlanders as Ensor connected from beyond the three-point line three times to give Hampton an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
   Cloudland began to gain back the momentum as it came all the way back to make it a one-point game at 61-60, but after a turnover with 1:49 remaining that's when the Bulldogs made another offensive run.
   Harrison made all six of his free throws in the quarter while Ryan Deskins totaled six to put Hampton back on top for good and going on to get the win 73-69.
   "We hit out free throws there at the end to ice the game," White said. "That's something we didn't do against Laurinburg."
   For Hampton, Ensor finished with 17 points and seven rebounds while Jeremy Hall totaled 13 points and six rebounds.
   Kevin Jones and Caleb Denton (five rebounds) both scored 14 points each for Cloudland as Cole Gouge chipped in 11 points while Kyle Jones (five rebounds) added 10 points and Robbie Tolley nine.