Volunteer slips past HV; Lady Warriors knock aside Falcons

By Jeff Birchfield

   Preseason polls showed Sullivan Central and Volunteer as the teams to beat in the Watauga Conference. Based on Tuesday night's game, those prognosticators may need to add Happy Valley to the mix.
   The Warriors came up just short 57-55 at Volunteer in the Watauga Conference opener for both schools.
   "Coach (Charlie) Bayless and his team tried to pick apart our zone," said Volunteer head coach Todd Whittimore. "We knew they would find some seams in the zone. We would have liked to have corrected that earlier tonight, but we did get it corrected at the end.
   "We had a couple of big steals, including one in the fourth quarter where Jacob Frazier made the steal and went down and made a lay-up. Anytime you can be down against coach Bayless in the fourth quarter and come out with a win, you have to feel good about it. We didn't feel like we played our best tonight, but we still came out with a win."
   Frazier was the man down the stretch for the Falcons causing the most damage. In the final minute, he broke a 54-54 tie with a tough bucket inside.
   Happy Valley's Tim Whaley tried to answer on the other end, but was fouled by the Falcons, Charles Lindholm as he went up for the tying lay-up. Whaley converted on one of two shots at the line.
   With the scoreboard still showing 56-54 after Whaley's free throw, Whittimore showed good sportsmanship making sure the score was corrected. What happened at the buzzer had the HV faithful forgetting all about this good gesture.
   After Lindholm made one of two foul shots to put the Falcons up 57-55, Happy Valley had the basketball with seven seconds remaining. They came down floor and passed the ball to the corner where Chris Rutledge launched a three as time expired.
   There was contact on the play, but after looking toward each other for a discussion, the officials calling the game decided there was no foul.
   "I definitely thought Rutledge was fouled on that last shot," said HV coach Bayless. "When you are away from home, you're going to get it sometimes."
   "I thought both teams played well, considering all the boys each team had sick. We didn't shoot good the first half. We were only about 2-for-9. We didn't run the ball too well tonight, but we made a good effort. They have a real good ball club."
   Rutledge may not have hit the final three-point attempt, but he was the spark that put the Warriors ahead for the first time in the contest. Early in the third quarter, down by eight after a Lindholm bank shot, Rutledge ran to the other end of the court and downed a trey.
   The next possession, he did the same, as did Todd Caldwell the next two times HV had the ball. An eight point lead for Volunteer at 32-24 only a couple of minutes before, quickly changed to a four-point deficit, thanks to the Warriors' hot hands and a tough man-to-man defense.
   "Those threes got everything hyped up," said Rutledge, a sophomore guard. "I felt I got fouled on that three-pointer at the end, but that's just the referees' call. We almost won, but I guess we just didn't play hard enough."
   The Warriors were led in scoring by Andrew Bowman who tallied 14 points, showing a good balance of inside and outside buckets. Rutledge put up 11, Whaley added 10, Caldwell scored eight and Alex Carroll scored seven for HV.
   For the homestanding Falcons, Frazier and Lindholm both had 14 with J.C. Frazier posting 12 points. Lindholm reached a milestone early in the game. He was given a game ball after a basket midway through the first quarter, as the score put him over 1000 points in his high school career.
   The Falcons, who traveled to the Bahamas for an early tournament this season, improved to 3-2 on the season and is now 1-0 in league play. Happy Valley dropped to 1-2 overall with a 0-1 conference slate.
   By Jeff Birchfield
   After letting David Crockett score a first win of the season in their last game, Happy Valley's Lady Warriors weren't about to have the same thing happen at Volunteer on Tuesday night.
   "We played really hard today," said guard Kate Powell, who led the Lady Warriors to a 51-31 win over the Lady Falcons. "We hit more inside shots than we have been and we played more as a team. We didn't make so many turnovers and played a lot smarter than we have been."
   Playing with the flu, Powell not only led HV in scoring with 12 points, but she drew a charge to negate Volunteer's first bucket. In addition, she and backcourt co-star Mandy Byrd put together consecutive fast breaks where each player got to score.
   On the first one, Byrd threw a nice bounce pass to Powell on a 2-on-1 break for the lay-up. The very next time down the court, Powell returned the favor, dishing the ball to Byrd at the same spot for an identical result. "On our fast breaks, we pushed it down the floor more," said Powell. "When you push it like that, you're going to get some shots or you're going to get fouled."
   The whole Warrior performance laid little resemblance to the last contest. Last Friday, they struggled to barely make 50 percent of free throws. On Tuesday, they made 12 straight attempts at the charity stripe before the first miss.
   "I thought shooting those free throws better helped us in the first half," remarked HV head coach Ben Godsey. "We were getting fouled a lot. We played fairly well. I felt it was important to start 1-0 in the conference. We were more patience on offense and made better decisions.
   "We took our time when needed. We made some excellent passes in the second half, especially on the breaks."
   Happy Valley led 16-10 at the end of one quarter and 25-12 at the end of the half. The lead remained at 13 points, 39-26 in favor of HV starting the fourth quarter.
   Ball movement was certainly better this time around. Besides the aforementioned breaks, the Lady Warriors were crisper throwing the ball around the perimeter. One of the highlight plays of the third quarter saw Brandi Dugger take a pass inside, bait the defense in and then kick it out to Kortney Goulds, who sank the open jumper.
   Guard play was strong all night, including Amber Duncan and Jessica Osborne, who came off the bench and combined to make four key steals.
   "I think we knew this was a conference game and it was a game we needed," said starting point guard Byrd. "We did the things we needed to do that makes it easy to win. I think it works good that we have a lot of depth at the guard position and we can work people in and out like that."
   Byrd was the Lady Warriors' second leading scorer at nine, followed by Terra Whaley with eight, Dugger with seven, Kelia Williams with five and Goulds with four.
   The Lady Falcons were led by Jackie Talbert, who scored 12 points. The inability of her teammates to score and the Volunteer team making only 11-of-57 field goal attempts were sources of frustration for Falcon coach Dennis Anderson.
   "We're just not a very good offensive ball team right now," said Anderson. "You can't beat people shooting like we did tonight. This is basically the b-team from last year. We just hope these girls can play better as the season goes on. That's all we can do."
   With the loss, Volunteer dropped to 0-4 on the season, 0-1 in conference play. The Lady Warriors sport a 1-0 league mark to go along with an overall record of 3-3.