Shooting woes sink Warriors against Boone

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   GRAY -- Hitting only three shots from the field the entire second half, Happy Valley boys' basketball team fell 51-37 at Daniel Boone in their season opener on Friday night.
   "If you can't shoot and handle the basketball, you're not going to beat anybody," said Warrior head coach Charlie Bayless. "We didn't get anything under the basket. We are going to have to work a lot on our shooting and we didn't pass the ball good at all.
   "I looked at the scoreboard in the second half and it didn't seem like it had moved. I asked one of the coaches if we had even scored in the second half."
   For its part, Boone didn't shoot well either, connecting on just 12 of 36 two-point attempts, but did enough to win the ballgame.
   "Anytime you play one of Charlie's ballclubs, they are going to make you look ugly," stated Trailblazer head coach Bobby Snyder. "Tonight, they made us about as ugly as you can look, especially in the first half."
   It was a tale of two halves of basketball for the Warriors. They used quickness and tough defense to take a 21-19 lead into the first-half locker room, but had no offensive punch to back it up in the second half.
   Happy Valley led 11-8 at the end of one quarter. After the Trailblazers went on a quick 7-0 run to take the lead, the Warriors answered back with six straight points of their own to go back in front. The teams were knotted up at 21-each with Boone holding for the last shot, when HV's Cody Whitlock pick-pocketed the Blazers' point guard for the second time in the half leading to an easy lay-up right before the second quarter ended.
   "I thought we should have been up a little more at the half," lamented Bayless. "But, we missed some shots right under the basket. Our boys moved well and played good defense, but we just didn't score when we needed to."
   After Happy Valley went up 26-23 midway through the third quarter on a free throw by Jeremy Maddox, Boone reeled off 22 straight points. It wasn't until Maddox went to the foul line again with a little over 4 minutes left in the game, that the Warriors would put more points on the scoreboard.
   The blame couldn't be placed solely on the Warrior offense, as Boone was very successful in the second half, pressuring the ball and allowing few scoring opportunities. "The press really helped us in the second half," said Snyder. "We were down 26-23 and that's unbelievable how things turned around. I just didn't dream we could press them and get by with that much. I knew they had scrimmaged Science Hill, but I didn't ask him (Bayless) how things had came out."
   Meanwhile the Trailblazers attacked the basket more in the second half, leading to a bonus situation that proved a key to victory. Of Boone's 32 second half points, 21 of them came at the charity stripe.
   "We got to the foul line pretty early in the second half," said Snyder. "We shot the ball pretty good once we got there. I noticed we hit 70 percent of our foul shots. That was good, because we didn't shoot good for the field. We missed some shots, but, their defense had a lot to do with that."
   If there was a bright spot for Happy Valley, it was the play of point guard Whitlock. Not only did the senior have the couple of steals in the first half, he led the team in scoring with 11 points.
   "I thought he played a good ball game," said Bayless. "He just didn't have any help from the wings scoring. I don't think the wings scored but just a couple of baskets all night. If you can't shoot outside on Bobby's team, then you are hurting."
   The only other Warrior players to have multiple field goals in the game were Jordy Harrison and Andrew Bowman, both of whom ended up with six points.
   For Boone, Scott Ploucha led them with 11 points on the night while Toby Hawkins contributed nine points, and Jeremy Helscel added eight points and nine boards.
   "Helscel only hit 4 of 11 and he has to do better than that for us," said Snyder. "But he added the nine rebounds and that was big. Ploucha hit two big three pointers for us. It was a good win and we will take it. The good thing I like about the way this team plays is that they all are pulling for each other."
   When HV and Boone meet up, it's always a battle of coaching legends. Snyder got his 790th career win this night, having the upper hand on Bayless the last few times the schools have played. Next up for his team, now 2-0 after beating North Greene earlier in the week, is a visit Monday to Morristown West.
   Bayless, head coach in 847 high school wins, hopes to turn things around on Tuesday night when Happy Valley visits Stoney Creek to play cross-county rival Unaka.
   Daniel Boone 51, Happy Valley 50 (Junior Varsity)
   Kevin Champagne's put back basket with 21 seconds left lifted the Blazer JV squad to the hard-fought win over the Warriors. Champagne scored a game-high 24 points leading Boone to the win, while Hunter Compton added 12.
   Happy Valley looked to have things in control when Drew Davis sank two free throws with 1:56 left in the game to give the Warriors a 50-45 lead. However, the Blazers pulled within one when Champagne kissed a bank shot off the glass. Boone's defense then forced a turnover leading to the winning score.
   The Warriors, who were led by John Bulla's 15 points, had three chances to score at the buzzer, but couldn't get the ball to drop. Ryan Toney scored eight points and Ricky Morgan and Greg Swafford each added six for Happy Valley.