Sweet 16 Shootout goes to Junior 'Toppers after vicory over Hampton

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- The Hampton Junior Bulldogs were playing for the Grindstaff-Greystoke Sweet 16 Shootout championship Tuesday night.
   But their reward was a battle with the much bigger Science Hill Junior 'Toppers.
   Despite playing with a lot of heart and giving the 'Toppers a run early, Hampton was outmatched. Science Hill stretched out a 23-10 lead after the first half and went on to take the first ever tournament title, 48-36, at Freedom Hall.
   Danny Avery, Soloman Duanah and Dionte Grey got the Toppers got off to a strong start with buckets to secure a lead.
   Justin Bentley and Jarred Irick followed for Hampton, tightening the score and trailing by two going into the second quarter.
   Dylan Ellis got things going for Hampton in the second quarter, but Grey, Aaron Ebarb and Dane Voss gave Science Hill a 13-point lead.
   The Toppers caught breaks on Hampton turnovers and with some big defensive plays to take the 23-10 lead into the second half.
   Bobby James stepped things up for Hampton with three buckets in the third quarter, but Science Hill wouldn't let up.
   Avery and Alex Jacobson both hit a pair of buckets to keep the 'Toppers' lead at 37-20.
   Hampton got closer, courtesy of Dustin Jaynes, at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Jaynes rolled five straight points for the Junior Bulldogs before Dustin Milhorn made it a 12-point game.
   Science Hill extended their lead behind Danny Avery, but Bobby James and Jarred Irick made it a 12-point game again at the end.
   Girls Fifth Place Game
   T.A. DUGGER 32
   The Lady Cyclones held onto a three-point lead going into the second half, but exploded behind a dominant 20-point game from Janey Robinson to top the Lady 'Toppers.
   T.A. Dugger held off a late charge from Science Hill with some big free throws late in the game.
   Robinson scored 10 points in the third quarter, with two treys in the game.
   Kelly Culler, Mariah Pietrowski and Hannah Fritz were the only other Lady Cyclones to score a two-point bucket. Kyla Jones and Mara LaPorte each made a crucial free throw late in the game.
   Alexis Fields and Rachel Shaw led a late charge from Science Hill. Shaw finished with nine points, while Fields tallied 7.
   Six other players made buckets for the Lady Toppers.
   Girls Sixth Place Game
   The Cloudland Lady Highlanders fought to get a lead, but couldn't hang on to it when it mattered.
   Happy Valley took a 12-6 advantage in the first quarter behind two treys from Courtney Byers.
   Cloudland rallied back with an 8-1 edge in the second quarter after solid play from Shellie McKinney, building a four-point lead going towards the final frame.
   Hannah Banks made two buckets to tie the game at 28 for the Lady Warriors, sending it into overtime.
   In the overtime period, Cloudland missed four crucial free throws, while Amber Dugger made one to clinch a win for Happy Valley.
   Byers led the game with 12 points for Happy Valley, while Dugger and Banks dropped seven and six, respectively. McKinney led the Lady 'Landers with eight, while Bethany Bare tallied six.
   Boys Sixth Place Game
   T.A. DUGGER 38
   Eight fourth quarter points from Bo Carter helped the Junior Cyclones clinch the big win.
   Carter wound up with a game high 14 points, while Wendall Loving dropped all ten of his points in the second and third quarters to help T.A. Dugger fight off a lead from stingy Indian Trail.
   Larry Smith downed ten for Indian Trail, while Ashon Adams had eight points.