Comets, Lady Jr. Warriors capture double-digit wins

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   Happy Valley and Central both went home with the taste of victory and failure. During Monday night's Jr. High basketball action at Central Elementary, the Central boys team took a 40-27 win, while the Happy Valley girls beat the Jr. Comets 53-27.
   Boys Varsity
   Central 40
   Happy Valley 27
   In a game that was a defensive struggle for both sides, Wesley Church and Jared Cline broke through with some big scores for Central, totaling 11 and 10 points, respectively. Cody Hyder and Nathan Kapoor each took control of an entire quarter apiece, single-handedly putting up the 12 points the Jr. Warriors scored in the second and third quarters, with six each.
   Daniel Loveless opened up the scoring for Central with a three-pointer, and Church followed through with an under-the-basket shot. Jr. Warrior Anthony Hollifield put in his three points worth with a long shot through the hoop. Cline scored four points for Central, while Happy Valley evened out the score to 7-9 with a scoring rebound from Jordan Oliver and a wide shot by Hollifield.
   "Probably for the first time in any game I can think of, we had more positive things than negative things happen," said Happy Valley coach Rik Anderson. "We still have an awful lot to work on and improve, but things are getting better."
   Central took a leap in the second quarter with a group effort from Cline, Church, Adrian Hopson, and Caleb Johnson, taking the lead at 19-13. Hyder scored six of his eight game points before the halftime buzzer.
   While Kapoor took care of Happy Valley in the third, the Jr. Comets were still pushing both offensively and defensively. Twelve of Central's thirteen third-quarter points were field goals that were evenly distributed among the players. Johnson contributed two shots, while his teammates sunk baskets from all over the arch.
   "I think our passing has improved. When we pass around and get open shots, we get a better look at the goal," said Lamont Barnett of his Central boys. "We make it down the court better. I'm extremely proud of our defense. They stepped up and played really good."
   Both teams struggled for the upper hand in the final quarter, putting in eight points each. Happy Valley saw scoring from a variety of players, including Hyder, Jesse Richardson, Chris Richardson, and Nick Payne. Church sunk Central's first two shots in the quarter, while Loveless rolled an underhand shot in, and Cain McWalters scored off of a rebound.
   Varsity Girls
   Happy Valley 53
   Central 27
   The Jr. Lady Comets and Warriors started the game in a struggle for the lead, finishing the first quarter 9-8 in Central's favor. Happy Valley, however, made a change of plans for the remainder of the game.
   In the second quarter, the Lady Warriors retaliated with 18 points. With Central still in the lead 12-8 after several minutes, Amber Dugger snatched a rebound and returned it for a goal, and Kristy Ramey tied the game by making two free throws.
   Emily Bradley scored six of Central's eight second-quarter points, while seventh-grader Courtney Byers was widening the gap for Happy Valley with six points of her own, in addition to scoring from Ramey, Leandra Mullins, and Lindsey Toney. Samantha Berry made Central's two remaining points from a pass in bounds.
   "It was a very physical ball game," said Happy Valley coach Dana Hill. "Central came out, and both teams were aggressive. I was very impressed with Central's aggressiveness. I think they played very well."
   Central leaned on Whitney Murray to handle the ball, getting around Happy Valley several times by quickly passing back to an undefended Murray for the drive after she threw the ball in bounds. Alison McKinney was the driving power for Happy Valley.
   Dugger bore the brunt of the mid-game scoring for the Jr. Lady Warriors, scoring two field goals and two foul shots in the third. Byers contributed the other five that put Happy Valley in the lead 37-25. Billy Jean Campbell led the Lady Comets in their attempt to catch up, scoring half of the quarter's eight points.
   "Courtney Byers played well, and Amber Dugger pushed us over the hump," Hill said. The Jr. Lady Warriors almost matched their 18 points in the final quarter, as they scored sixteen to finish up the game. Bradley scored Central's final points on a layup.
   "It was a big moral victory for us," said Letha Carr, Central's coach. "The girls played as a team from start to finish. They never did quit."
   Carr was pleased with her girls' effort, especially in the first quarter. "The press was working for us and the girls were talking to each other. We have three girls that played school ball last year. The girls are young coming up from the youth league. It's a big step; they are learning."