Cyclones, 'Landers win in girls' tourney

By David Coulson
STAR Correspondent

   BOONE, N.C. -- Cloudland High didn't find as smooth sailing of a year as it did last year in the opening round of the Bandana's Barbecue Prep Classic girls' basketball tournament. But the Lady 'Landers held on for a 52-41 victory over Avery County in a game played Friday night at Watauga High.
   Last year, on the way to a tournament championship, Cloudland (4-4) set a tourney record for three-point shooting in the quarterfinals. This time, the Lady 'Landers connected on only one trey and committed 25 turnovers. But riding the hot scoring of April Williams (14 points), Jessica Lunsford (13 points) and Heather Banner (10), Cloudland built an 11-point, 25-14 lead in the first half and was able to hang on from there.
   After falling behind 43-30 through three periods, Avery cut the lead to single digits several times in the fourth quarter but couldn't overcome that early deficit. Charity Austin scored 12 points and Michelle Eggers added 11 for the Lady Vikings (0-8).
   Avery also struggled to protect the ball, turning it over 23 times. While Cloudland wasn't productive from the three-point range, they did hit 20-of-38 shots from the field (52.6 percent), and limited Avery to 15-of-42 shooting (35.7 percent).
   In other first-round action, Elizabethton stopped Johnson County 68-43, J.L. Mann of South Carolina toppled Haysi, Va. 63-38, and Union Pines handled Watauga 51-45.
   Johnson County (1-5) showed some tenacity early to stay within two points, 15-13, through the first period against Elizabethton. But then the Lady Cyclones overwhelmed the Lady Longhorns 24-8 in the second quarter to take a 39-21 lead heading to the locker room.
   Rikki Baughman did much of the damage with 17 points and six rebounds. Michaela Pietrowski added 11 points and Victoria Hopson contributed 10 points, six rebounds, and five steals.
   Elizabethton shot 48.2 percent from the field (27-of-56), while holding Johnson County to 36.4 percent-shooting (16-of-44) and forcing 19 turnovers. Elena Owens was the lone bright spot for the Lady Longhorns with 15 points.
   Lisa Jackson fired in 25 points and added 15 rebounds, five assists, and five steals to lead Union Pines (5-4) to a 51-45 victory over host Watauga High in the opening round of the Bandana's Barbecue Prep Classic girls' basketball tournament on Friday night.
   Jessie Hodges led Watauga (5-3) with 15 points, but she was held scoreless in the fourth period. The Lady Pioneers also hurt themselves, going 14-of-26 from the free throw line and missing four of six and two one-in-ones in the final quarter.