Lady 'Toppers survive Hampton rally, take WEMB title

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR Correspondent

   The Science Hill Lady Toppers survived a last minute comeback by the Hampton Bulldogs with a 59-52 victory in the WEMB Holiday Classic at Unicoi High School on Friday.
   "We are starting to step up and figure out what it takes to win, and we got some critical rebounds and hit some free throws," said Science Hill coach Brenda Evans.
   The Hilltoppers took the opening tip-off, to score off of a lob pass in low to Alisha Dill from Lauren McClain.
   Another quick bucket came when McClain made a back court steal, and passed inside to Rachel Ward, who hit the shot and drew the foul making it 5-0 with 6:00 left.
   Next time down the floor Joy Gardner knocked down a three to give Hampton its first points of the night.
   The Bulldogs pulled within one point before Science Hill went on a 11-2 run to end the first period leading 16-6.
   Hampton came out with a score in the second quarter with a fast break from Allison Pierce.
   The Toppers managed to hold the lead around ten -points through the half, with Jodi Stout making a lay-up with an assist from Pierce right before the buzzer to make the margin 27-20 in favor of Science Hill.
   The Bulldogs started the second half with a drive down the lane from Kelly Shoun to bring Hampton within five.
   The deficit remained primarily the same the entire quarter with the Toppers grabbing their biggest lead of the game at 43-32 with just more than a minute left in the third period.
   A couple of free-throws and a field goal from Kari Stout helped close the game down to seven going into the last period.
   "We missed eleven free throws tonight and lost by seven, so that tells you how important they are," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell.
   The Hilltoppers seemed to still have control heading into the fourth quarter, as they had lead the entire ballgame.
   But the Bulldogs refused to give in with the momentum starting to swing their way after Shoun had connected on three consecutive three-point plays, and pulling Hampton to 46-45 with just under five minutes left to play.
   Science Hill received a couple of back-to-back baskets from Alisha Dill to gain control for the Toppers once again. She finished with the game high of twenty-one points on the night.
   "Dill stepped up toward the end of the game, and she doesn't quit and keeps battling back," said
   The Bulldogs made one last run with 1:10 left to close the gap to 53-52 off of a Shoun three-point shot.
   The Hilltoppers prevailed after that point, as Hampton missed from the field and was forced to foul in the final minute.
   "I'm proud of my team for they battle back, and once seen that they could play with them they did," said Campbell.
   Unicoi County/ Happy Valley
   The Unicoi County Lady Blue Devils cruised to a 54-31 victory over the Happy Valley Warriors in the WEMB Classic on Friday.
   "We had some real good stretches and I thought we moved the ball really well, except for maybe the last four minutes of the game," said Unicoi Co. coach Glen Fisher.
   The Lady Devils sprung out to a 27-12 lead by the half due to a tough played defense and controlling of the boards.
   "When you only get ten rebounds on the night you're not going to beat many people that way," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey.
   Unicoi out-rebounded the Warriors 32-10 plus denying very few good looks toward the basket.
   "Our strong point this year has been our defense, and we put pressure on people and force turnovers," said Fisher.
   Kim Anders led Unicoi with the game high of seventeen points, while Brandi Dugger paced the Warriors with eleven.
   "Tonight we ran into pretty good team and Unicoi is solid so we're just going to look forward to playing Hampton next," said Godsey.
   Boys game
   The Unicoi County Blue Devils hung on against a late quarter rally from the South Greene Rebels to prevail in a 66-64 victory at Unicoi Co. High school.
   "We did what we had to do down the stretch and we got a little tentative toward the end, and we we're fortunate to hit some free throws and come out on top," said Unicoi County coach David Whaley.
   The Blue Devils jumped out to a 31-21 by the half, as they ran the floor to near perfection in the first two quarters.
   The Greene Devils were able to cut the deficit to one with eight seconds left in the game off a drive to the lane from Cody Caraway, but this was as close as they would come.
   South Greene was led by Caraway who had twenty-six points, and Darrell Roop finished with nineteen for Unicoi on the night.
   "It was a good ballgame and South Greene did a great job for we were lucky to come out with a win," said Whaley.