Falcons knock off Hampton; Lady 'Dogs squeak by 51-50

By Jeff Birchfield

   Michael Jordan couldn't have done it better himself.
   Lauren Pittman calmly stepped up and nailed a jumper right inside the three-point arc with 18 seconds left, lifting Hampton to a 51-50 win over Volunteer in an early Watauga Conference contest.
   "Coach Tim Andrews told me right before I went out there to be confident and put the ball in the hole," said Pittman, who paced the Lady Bulldogs with 18 points on the night. "I knew what I had to do, I had to put it in for him and for the team.
   "I knew it was going in as soon as I shot it. I was already jumping up and down before it hit the rim."
   Pittman was a scoring machine in the first quarter, tallying 10 of Hampton's 14 points. She cooled off in a scoreless second quarter, but came up big when the team needed her the most.
   "She (Pittman) was hot there and she kept us close to them early on," said Hampton head coach Leslie Campbell. "But I have to give it to all of them, they played hard. Jessica Tolley came in and posted up good and Danielle Gilbert came in there and got some good rebounds.
   "All I asked Danielle to do was come in and get some defensive boards and that's exactly what she did."
   While Pittman was good at making backdoor cuts and putting the ball through the net, Tolley was just as effective inside scoring off clean-up baskets.
   "That was what we needed, some rebounds inside," said Tolley, who ended up with 17 points. "I tried to hustle down the floor and get some easy lay-ups. We just went out there and did what we had to do."
   Buckets didn't come easy all that often against the Lady Falcon defense. Volunteer matched the Lady Bulldogs punch for punch throughout the game. They fell behind 14-10 at the end of the first period, but trailed only by one, 23-22 at the half.
   Volunteer finally took the lead early in the third period and bolted out to a seven-point advantage thanks to a bucket by Mallory Herron. Hampton then scored eight straight themselves on a run that ended with a Tolley lay-up off a break.
   Down 35-34, Volunteer went back ahead by three after baskets by Herron and Steevie Caldwell. The Lady Dogs' got a lift right before the period ended when Joy Gardner's shot behind the three-point arc knotted it up at 38-apiece going into the final period.
   In that final eight minutes, the largest lead either team could manage was five by Volunteer after a Caldwell free throw. In the closing minute, Lacy Oliver made one-of-two shots at the stripe to pull Hampton back within one, before Pittman's game winner.
   As satisfying as it was for Hampton, it was equally disappointing for the Hawkins County team, still looking for a first win of the season.
   "Our inexperience showed there at the end," said Lady Falcon coach Dennis Anderson, whose team only converted eight of 20 free throw attempts. "We weren't able to protect the lead we had. We went 0-for-5 at the line toward the end.
   "We still had a chance to win it, but we didn't get the breaks at the end. We've got the girls to do this. We've just got to become a better ballclub."
   Morghan Arnold with 14 points and Caldwell with 10 were double-digit scorers for Volunteer, now standing 0-2 in the league and 0-5 overall.
   Hampton evened its league record at 1-1 and also its overall mark of 4-4 before taking on Johnson County next Tuesday evening.
   "The way we started this ballgame, I'm definitely pleased to get a victory," remarked Campbell. "It gives us confidence and confidence is a big key with this team right now." BOYS Volunteer 63 Hampton 43 If stopping Volunteer's Chucky Lindholm and Jacob Frazier on the inside wasn't tough enough, Weston Creasy started bombing from the outside, leading the Falcons to a 63-43 Watauga Conference win over the Hampton Bulldogs.
   "Weston had struggled a little bit, but we told him to keep working and those shots would fall," said Volunteer head coach Todd Whittimore after witnessing Creasy sink five three-pointers from the right side of the court in the second half. "We knew he score like that. There were a couple of games back in the summer when he had eight threes in a game and we knew he could do that again.
   "It wasn't so much just him. It was his teammates realizing he was hot and finding ways to get him the ball. That's what I was most proud of."
   The aforementioned trio accounted for 54 of Volunteer's 63 points. Lindholm led all scorers with 20 points, Creasy added 18 and Frazier put his name alongside 16.
   Hampton's Zach Trivette did his best to match the scoring onslaught. Trivette popped three treys himself in a 19-point effort.
   "I was just trying my best to help the team out and keep us in the game," said Trivette. "I'm trying to be a leader on the team. It wasn't about me having points. It was about scoring for the team.
   "With Chucky, he's a big man for them, and that No. 10 (Creasy) shooting those threes, they were killing us on the inside and on the outside. We needed to get it down in the post better ourselves."
   The Bulldogs did get a double digit scoring performance from one post player Adam Miller, who ended up with 12 points. The only other Hampton players to score multiple baskets were Lucas Arwood and Jordan Honeycutt, who ended up with four points apiece.
   Volunteer led 16-10 at the end of the first period, but bolted out to a 30-15 lead at the halftime break. Their 1-3-1 halfcourt trap caused Hampton all kinds of trouble with the 'Dogs not sinking a field goal the entire second quarter.
   "I don't know if it was all our defense or if they were a little bit cold," said Whittimore. "But, we liked the way our kids played all night with their defensive intensity. It was a total team effort. We building and trying to win a championship and just plugging away."
   In the third quarter, Hampton fought to close the gap down to nine points before Frazier and Creasy responded with baskets.
   "We played as well offensively for about six minutes in the third quarter as we have all year," said Hampton head coach Bud Hazelwood. "But, we gave up threes on the other end and we only gained three points on them.
   From the closing stages of the third period to midway through the fourth, the Falcons went on a 14-0 run to put the game away.
   "We looked like a team there for a while, but then the game got away from us," Hazelwood commented. "They're one of the best teams in the conference. They're so strong physically inside. They will just snatch the ball away from you and that's probably our biggest weakness right now."
   Hampton (0-2, 1-7) will try to regroup next Tuesday night when they face Johnson County. Volunteer (2-0, 4-2) will try to stay perfect in the Watauga Conference that night when they take on Sullivan North.