'Landers slip by Bulldogs

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was Hampton's game to win.
   The Bulldogs kept a steady lead throughout their battle against the Cloudland Highlanders, but fell apart in the fourth quarter.
   Craig Cooke drained a big three before Robbie Tolley connected on three straight buckets to put Cloudland in position for a 65-60 win at Smith Gymnasium.
   "Hampton played real well and shot the ball well," said Cloudland coach Ned Smith. "We didn't play any defense. It was the worst defense we've ever played. Bud (Hazelwood) did a good job and they put up a lot of points. Hampton outplayed us tonight."
   Hampton fought every Cloudland charge with somebody stepping up.
   Travis Smith drained three treys in the first half with some big buckets from Alex Ingram and Adam Miller giving them a three-point halftime lead.
   Hampton took a 7-1 advantage early in the first quarter behind buckets from Zac Trivette and Miller.
   Cooke powered Cloudland back into the lead on a string of buckets, but the Bulldogs held onto a 16-15 lead.
   Smith put 11 straight points in for the Bulldogs to guide them to a nine-point lead down the stretch in the second period.
   Cloudland couldn't get their inside game where they wanted it, but rallied behind Cooke and Cody Jones to make it a three-point game at the half.
   Hampton shot well over 60 percent in the first half, with some big outside shots.
   "We talked about our defense during the half," Smith said. "Our offense was doing good, putting up 32 points. In the third quarter, we still didn't play defense. In the fourth quarter, we settled down and took things where we needed to go."
   Cloudland took a lead in the third quarter after big buckets from Tolley, but Daniel Smith and Jordan Honeycutt guided Hampton back into front.
   Hampton was successful at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but it was broken down after Cooke bust some big threes.
   Tolley controlled the inside game, to put Cloudland up by seven with a minute to go.
   Hampton resorted to fouling and couldn't contain the clock with Mark Byrd taking the ball from every angle. Smith made a final rally for his squad, but it wasn't enough as the time ran down.
   Cooke and Hampton's Travis Smith each hit five treys in the game. Cooke led the contest with 22 points, while Smith led the Bulldogs with 19 points.
   "I thought we did real well on offense," Cooke said. "Our defense was slow and we've got some guys who are sick. As a team we came back and played good ball."
   Cloudland's game turned around once they got the inside attack working to Tolley, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half.
   "We need to work on our defense," Tolley said. "Maybe we can get things going from there."
   Ingram (nine points), Honeycutt (eight points) and Trivette (seven points) followed for Hampton, while Byrd and Jones tallied eight and seven points respectively for the 'Landers.
   Hampton and Cloudland continue play this Friday in the Carter County Classic at Hampton High.
   Lady Bulldogs 67
   Lady Highlanders 55
   The Hampton Lady Bulldogs had a tough first quarter, but used complete team-ball to their advantage Monday night.
   Hampton used double-digit games from four players to pull out to a 25-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter before Cloudland rallied to close the game to nine near the end.
   "I don't take anything away from Cloudland, they came back and made it a nine point game," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell. "Our defense let up in the fourth with them, but we're looking better and better."
   "Everybody's scoring, contributing and making good passes to each other," she said. "The biggest reason we're winning is that we're playing team basketball."
   Hampton took control after outscoring Cloudland 21-7 in the second quarter. They held their own from that point on.
   Cloudland scored 28 of their points in the final period.
   "Hampton played well and beat us in every aspect of the game," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield. "We fought back at the end, but they played real well."
   "We've got to get better offensively and defensively," he said. "We gave them a lot of open looks and we scored almost all of our points in the fourth quarter."
   Hampton's five starters scored all of their points, with Lauren Pitman leading her squad with 17 points.
   Heather Chambers tallied 16, Lacey Oliver dropped 14, Jessica Tolley punched in 11 and Joy Gardner made way for nine.
   Heather Banner led the game with 18 points for Cloudland, with four treys. Jessica McGuire also scored nine for the Lady 'Landers.