Cloudland knocked off by D-Boone

By Travis Brown
STAR Correspondent

   GRAY--The Cloudland Highlanders went on the road to Daniel Boone for a pair of non-conference matchups with the Trailblazers Tuesday night. Unfortunatley for the 'Landers, the trip was not a fruitful one as the Trailblazers took home a pair of convincing victories.
   In the varsity opener, the ladies took the floor for a first quarter that was riddled with errors. Turnovers and poor passing resuted in turnover problems for both teams. Boone's Keli Perry finally broke the scoreless tie with a pair of foul shots with 5:01 remaining in the first period. A subsequent steal and a quick two put the Lady Trailblazers up 4-0 early.
   Depite a poor offensive performance from his team, Cloudland head coach Matt Birchfield was pleased with the Lady Highlanders' defensive effort early in the game.
   "We did what we wanted to do on the defensive side of the floor," Birchfield said. "We did not execute offensively."
   Trailing by four, Cloudland guard Jessica Lunsford stepped up her performance during the final moments of the first quarter. Seven first-quarter points by the sophomore put the Lady Highlanders ahead 7-6 heading to the second quarter.
   The 'Landers would hold the lead for the majority of the second quarter until a three-pointer by Petty tied the game with 2:35 remaining in the half.
   Despite going 6 for 26 from the field and a 1 of 9 from three-point range, the Lady Trailblazers clung to a 17-16 lead at halftime.
   The second half would see a renewed Daniel Boone offense, with improved shooting and better ball control. With the offense now firm, the spark came from the defensive side of the floor.
   The Trailblazer press caused havoc with the Cloudland offensive scheme, causing turnovers and preventing the 'Landers from finding a rythm in the halfcourt.
   As the quarter progressed, the Lady Trailblazers found their stride offensively and hit everything they put in the air, going 8 of 10 from the field in the third quarter. When the smoke settled, the 'Landers found themselves on the business end of a 36-23 score.
   Solid foul shooting in the fourth quarter brought some relief, but a significant rally never developed as Daniel Boone went on to seal a 47-35 victory.
   After the contest Boone skipper Tim Campbell remained upbeat about his team's second-half performance.
   "We really tried to start moving the ball, the kids did a better job finding the open spots," Campbell said. "We used one type of press early, and then switched at halftime. It seemed like we kept them off balance a bit."
   Laura Hilton's 13-point performance topped the Boone scoring output. Teammate Emily Werner added 10.
   Lunsford showed the way for Cloudland, netting 12. The Lady 'Landers received nine from April Williams.
   In the nightcap, a technically sound Trailblazer team hungry for a win, faced off against a budding Highlander team in search of a defining victory.
   It was the Trailblazers who would rise to the occasion as precision passing and solid rebounding established the early lead for Boone. Unlike the girls matchup earlier, both teams came out firing in search of the early lead.
   Only 48 seconds into the game Daniel Boone coach Bobby Snyder called timeout as back-to-back threes by Craig Cooke put Daniel Boone behind 6-5. After some mild adjustments to the defensive package, Cooke was held to six points the remainder of the game.
   Highlander coach Ned Smith showed great respect for his coaching opponent, citing good play for Daniel Boone on both sides of the ball.
   "Up to three quarters we played well," Smith said. "We took a couple of bad shots at the end of the third and they capitalized."
   The defensive adjustments helped the Trailblazers move out to a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second stanza offered a much slower pace, and a more controlled halfcourt look from both teams.
   Boone's Rusty Mabe found success from the perimeter, hitting 2 of his 4 threes in the first half to help Daniel Boone out to a 27-22 halftime advantage.
   The 'Landers would make a run midway through the third quarter as better ball movement and shot selection pulled Cloudland within two points with 5:03 remaining. Attempting to slow the pace and take good shots, the Highlander offense struggled towards the end of the period and surrendered a pair of transition baskets.
   Trailing 38-31 going into the fourth quarter seemed like a managable situation, given the early success of Cloudland's perimeter shooting game, but a comeback was simply not in the cards.
   The game remained close until midway through the fourth quarter, when a pair of three point baskets by Mabe ended the Cloudland threat. The Trailblazers would wrap up the victory by a 53-38 score.
   After the contest, Snyder said the contest marked a needed victory for his team.
   "We've gone three straight games and haven't played very hard," he said. "I thought our defense was alot better tonight and we played with intensity, too."
   Mabe topped the 'Blazers with 20 points, followed by Kevin Champagne, 13, and Morgan Honeycutt, 11.
   Cooke's 12 points led Cloudland, which got 11 from James Miller.