Jackets sting Hampton in close Semifinal victory

By Wes Holtsclaw


   The Whitesburg Yellowjackets continued their high scoring spree on Friday night, but almost got a taste of their own medicine courtesy of the Hampton Bulldogs on Friday night at White / VanHuss gym at the Grindstaff Holiday Classic.
   The Bulldogs rallied twice in the second half to overcome two ten point leads from the Jackets, but fell 78-72 despite tying the game with a minute remaining following Corey McKinney's heroic effort from the charity stripe.
   However, Bo Cook rescued his squad yet again with a 30-point performance including a big tray with under :50 seconds left.
   After a questionable walk was called against Hampton's Mitchell Morton after he nailed a clutch bucket, the Bulldogs were forced to place Whitesburg at the line where they sealed the victory in the semi-finals to move on to the championship game.
   "I think a lot of people didn't give us a chance," said Hampton coach Bud Hazelwood, "They are a good ball team, they are good shooters and strong inside. We gave up some three-point plays and we knew they were going to go inside."
   "They took us up with it, 70-to-70 and Mitchell (Morton) got called for two straight walks," he said, "The first one was a good call, and the next time I thought he made a good move and scored. I didn't think that was a walk, but they called it, so we've gotta go with it.
   "I'm proud of them," he said, "We've improved a lot and we stepped it up."
   Josh Moss and Shane Campbell had tremendous efforts in the first half in the contest for Hampton, as the Bulldogs rallied to take a two-point lead at the end of the half.
   Michael McCall and Adam Miller provided some clutch plays against Trevor Buttrey and Winston Lee of Whitesburg, as the second half was narrowed down to the wire.
   Buttrey contributed four of the foul shots to seal the deal for his squad.
   "We came into this tournament just looking to improve as a team," Buttrey said. "I think we have. We've got some great competition out of Hampton tonight and Cloudland.
   "We just hope to come out in the championship like we have the past two nights, and come away with a victory."
   McKinney and Campbell led the Bulldogs with 14, while Michael McCall tipped in 13. Buttrey added 15 for the Jackets.
   University High 56
   Unicoi County 45
   The Devils tried to take away their weapon, and eventually paid the price.
   After concentrating on University High's Brandon Bradley throughout most of the contest, Matt Tillman and Darryl Collins helped the Junior Bucs explode to a nailbiting 56-45 win to advance to the championship round Friday night at VanHuss-White Gymnasium.
   "It was a good team win," said University High coach Tony Gordon, "They did a good job of taking Brandon out of the game. He's a really good player, but we've got a great group of guys around him."
   "We pride ourselves in not being one dimensional," he said, "(Unicoi County) does a good job of creating an ugly game, and I mean that very complimentary. They play a very tough zone and we're not the best shooting team out there. "
   Bradley still winded up with a game leading 18 points for the Junior Bucs, but was glued to the ground as his high flying exhibition was closed for an evening. However, he still came away with 11 boards, three steals, two assists, and a pair of blocks.
   "A lot of kids, when they are being the focus of attention, they tend to get frustrated," Gordon said. "I think (Bradley) handled himself well on both ends and gave us baskets when we needed them."
   "We had a really good defensive effort," he said, "This group handles themselves well, I thought the fact that we came back and finished strong said a lot. I'm proud of all of them."
   Jonathan Grindstaff and Matt White provided solid games for the Devils, with 13 and 11 a piece. Darryl Collins added ten for the Junior Bucs.
   University High and Whitesburg met for the Tournament Championship last night, while Unicoi County and Hampton battled for the third place spot.