Jr. Bulldogs forge their way to semifinal round

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- Only three Carter County squads advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Grindstaff-Greystoke East Tennessee Middle School Shootout at Freedom Hall.
   After Saturday night, only one squad, Hampton, has the chance to reach the championship with a win in Monday's semifinals.
   Led by a strong overtime performance from Dustin Jaynes and Bobby James, the Junior Bulldogs fought off a charge from Jeff Peters and the Unaka Junior Rangers for a 35-27 victory in quarterfinal play.
   On the girls side, Nikita Jones' free-throw shooting carried the Vance Lady Vikings to a 42-37 victory over T.A. Dugger, after Vance pulled away with a slim lead and held it throughout the final frame.
   In other boys' games, John Sevier defeated Unicoi, University High defeated the Sevier seventh graders, Hunter knocked off the T.A. Dugger JV unit, Indian Trail beat Happy Valley, T.A. Dugger's varsity handled Cloudland, Science Hill passed by Ross Robinson and Church Hill pulled through a win against Vance.
   The girls' side saw Colonial Heights wallop Ross Robinson, University High take Unaka via forfeit, Happy Valley top Hunter in a close three-point battle, Hampton squeak past Indian Trail, Cloudland pull away a one-point win over Virginia Middle, Greeneville slam Science Hill and Unicoi County top Sevier by ten.
   Hampton (Boys) 35
   Unaka 27, OT
   Hampton held an 11-7 lead going into the second half and fought hard with a solid inside game from Jarred Irick and Justin Bentley.
   Jeff Peters carried the Rangers with help from Roger Bailey, tying the game in the fourth quarter after holding the Junior Bulldogs to just one point.
   The overtime frame was all Hampton, as James and Jaynes led their squat to a 12-4 differential to advance to the semi-final round against Church Hill.
   Peters led the game with 15 points. Bentley added nine for the Bulldogs, while three other Hampton players (Irick, Jaynes, James) all had eight.
   Vance 42
   T.A. Dugger (Girls) 37
   The Lady Cyclones had many chances to tie or take a lead in the final girls game of the evening.
   T.A. Dugger and Vance swapped the lead throughout the game, but Vance made some big strides in the fourth quarter with buckets from Jones and Aysha Gross.
   Kyla Jones and Janey Robinson used inside buckets to keep T.A. Dugger in the game, while Hannah Fritz was solid from the outside.
   However, the Lady Vikings were strong from the charity stripe when the buckets were needed, allowing them to hold onto a close win.
   Jones led Vance with 18 points, while Gross contributed 8. Kyla Jones finished with 10 for the Lady Cyclones, while Robinson and Fritz totaled 12 and eight respectively.
   T.A. Dugger (Boys) 39
   Cloudland 31
   The Cyclone varsity squad held off a solid 19-point game from Michael Lunsford with a big third quarter to take the win over the Junior 'Landers.
   Bo Carter was a force inside for the Cyclones with 15 points, while Jake Peters, Ryan Green and Brent Thomas each added multiple buckets for their squad.
   Brett Stocton added four for Cloudland.
   Happy Valley (Girls) 22
   Hunter 19
   It was a battle that went down to the end, but Happy Valley was fortunate to pull it out.
   Three treys from Courtney Byars and an all-around strong game from Hannah Banks paced the Lady Warriors, while Brittney Westberry (eight points) and Kayla Winters led the Lady Tigers.
   Cloudland (Girls) 35
   Virginia Middle 34
   Eight points apiece from Shellie McKinney and Rebekah Tolley led the Lady 'Landers in their slim victory over Virginia Middle.
   Chelsey Bishop (11 points) and Hannah Shankel (eight points) was over half of Virginia's offense, while Cloudland contained them with strong defense.
   Hampton (Girls) 37
   Indian Trail 35
   Johnesia Good dropped 16 points for Indian Trail, but it wasn't enough to overcome a solid team outing from the Lady Bulldogs.
   Mikki Oliver pulled out 13 points, while Andrea Smith (nine points) and Josie McKinney (five points) led Hampton late in their victory to advance them to the consolation seeding.
   Semifinal and consolation contests begin Monday at 11 a.m. at Freedom Hall.