First-round Shoun Lumber Classic play holds suspense

By Michelle Pope

   Friday evening at the Shoun Lumber Carter County Classic, hosted by Hampton, held mounds of action and suspense, as three of the four games were seven-point or less games.
   Cloudland trailed behind Unicoi County for most of the game, and took advantage of some late three-pointers in the final minutes to squeak by with a 51-50 win. The Hampton/North Greene game gave everyone a feeling of deja-vu when the Bulldogs got down to business in the fourth quarter to pass the Pioneers and win the game 57-50. Tri-Cities Christian slipped past University High with a 57-53 win. The only exception to the night's trend was the 80-48 game Happy Valley played against David Crockett.
   Unicoi County took an early lead against the Highlanders with the help of three goals from Derek Hess, and a rebounded basket and three points from the foul line by Jonathan Grindstaff. Cody Jones hit one from outside the arch for Cloudland, while Robbie Tolley contributed three points and Jacob Hughes sank a foul shot to make the score 7-14.
   Colton White opened the second quarter with the first of what would become three treys for Unicoi County. Tolley stayed busy during the second quarter, sinking four baskets and going to the foul line three times, totaling nine points for the quarter.
   With a Highlander three-pointer from Hughes, Cloudland began to catch up. A dramatic save, during which Cooke tipped in Jones' three-point attempt helped them along, and Cooke nonchalantly tossed in a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to take the halftime lead for Cloudland at 26-25. Cloudland scored nineteen points in the second quarter against the Blue Devils' eleven.
   Highlander coach Ned Smith contributed their success against the Devils to carefully planned tactics. "We were patient on offense," Smith said. "We passed it around until we got what we wanted."
   Both teams were seemingly more determined after halftime. More than a minute of scoreless play passed before Jonathan Pritchard stepped up to the foul line for Cloudland and sank both free throws. By the time Thomas Evely made two more baskets for Unicoi, little more than four minutes was left in the quarter.
   Hughes threw a pass through the midst of a bewildered throng of Blue Devils to Aaron Stockton, who lobbed it up for a goal. Mark Byrd followed through for the 'Landers with a layup. Evely led the third quarter scoring for the Devils with eight points.
   The fourth quarter was filled with three-pointers from both teams. After a Tolley score, Jones threw a trey for Cloudland, to which Unicoi County responded to as White took a pass from Hunter Sparks and put it in for three points. White scored another trey seconds later, and after an Evely basket, Cooke sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 46.
   Grindstaff took the lead for Unicoi County with an inside shot, only to have it snatched back by a Jones three-pointer. Two free throws from Grindstaff bumped the Devils back to a one-point lead, just before Stockton sunk the game-winning shot for Cloudland with seven seconds on the clock.
   Grindstaff scored fourteen for the Devils, followed by Evely with twelve. James Miller led the Highlander scoring with sixteen points, as Jones and Cooke contributed eleven and eight.
   "They've really improved," said Smith of the Unicoi team. "They're a good ball team. They led most of the game there, but we got ahead in the end."
   Happy Valley 80
   David Crockett 48
   Although Happy Valley had a semi-slow start, leading by only three points at halftime, Charlie Bayless' team worked magic in the second half, scoring fifty-three points in two quarters.
   David Crockett took a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes before Todd Caldwell narrowed the gap for the Warriors with a three-point goal. James Carper made the score 13-7 in the Pioneers' favor with an underhanded shot from behind the goal. A pass to Drew Davis under the goal turned into two more Warrior points, and Jeremy Maddox boosted Happy Valley to eleven points against Crockett's thirteen as the buzzer sounded.
   The Warriors played a fast-paced second quarter, beginning with a court-long pass that Maddox put through the hoop to tie the game. Caldwell took the lead for the Warriors with an outside shot, and Happy Valley drove it in with three consecutive three-pointers. Caldwell sunk the first, and immediately stole the ball and passed to Andrew Bowman, who put another trey through the net. Caldwell took his turn from behind the arch again for the third, giving Happy Valley the 24-16 lead.
   Crockett scoring from Carper and Lance Booker gave the Pioneers 24 by the end of the second quarter, but not before Tim Whaley hit a basket from the side and Bowman made a free throw.
   In the third quarter, the Warriors made their mark from behind the 3-point line again. Chris Rutledge and Caldwell dropped six points before Crockett had a chance to score. Caldwell scored nine of his twenty-five game points in the third quarter. The Pioneers scored twelve points in the third quarter.
   "That's the worst we've shot. Happy Valley's got a good team, and it was just like a runaway train the second half," said David Crockett coach Marty Street. "They shot it about as well as they could possibly shoot it and we struggled to even make a foul shot. The outcome is evident with how poorly we played. We played one game in two weeks and I think that shows. I can't imagine ever shooting it as bad as we did tonight."
   Happy Valley drove it home during the final quarter, scoring thirty-one points while Crockett managed another twelve. Whaley sank ten points, Bowman scored six, Caldwell contributed five, and Rutledge put up four. William Haston led the Pioneers in the fourth, scoring six of his nine points.
   "He's got a good team," Street said of Bayless. "The combination of that and us playing as poorly as we could play, it wasn't even a game - it wasn't even fun to watch."
   Haston, Booker, and Tyler Estepp each scored nine total points for Crockett. Caldwell led the Warriors with twenty-five points, followed by Whaley with eighteen, and Bowman with eleven.
   "I thought we played great. I don't think Crockett played too good at all," Bayless said with a laugh. "Marty played for me, and we went to state in 1974. He was in that ball club and he's a good coach. I knew he was wanting to beat me, just like I used to try to beat Coach Treadway when I (first) coached at Happy Valley."
   Hampton 57
   North Greene 50
   Hampton and North Greene were locked in a battle for points throughout most of their contest, but the 'Dogs played an eighteen-point final quarter while simultaneously holding the Huskies to seven points.
   Matthew Burns carried Greene during the first quarter, single-handedly scoring ten points, one point less than the entire Hampton squad scored in the first frame. Six of his points were goals from behind the arch. Clay Finley was responsible for the other four points that put the Huskies in the 14-11 lead.
   For Hampton in the first, Travis Smith scored a three-pointer and another basket, while Jordan Honeycutt made two goals and Adam Miller scored two points.
   Burns scored another trey in the second for the Huskies, while Hampton's Miller put up six points and Honeycutt scored four. North Greene's Matthew Ormsbee tied the score at twenty-seven just before the half ended.
   "We came out early pushing it really good and getting the ball inside where we wanted it," said Hampton coach Bud Hazelwood. "We were missing the shots though, missing the layups, and they sort of got down on themselves. It took us to about halfway through the fourth quarter to really start gelling and playing with a little enthusiasm."
   After a jump shot from Burns, Miller opened the second half up for Hampton with a spinning jump shot, and collected a foul shot from it, which he also scored on. William Hughes stole the spotlight from Burns in the third, scoring three consecutive baskets to steal the lead back from the Bulldogs. Jacob Culler answered with two goals, one of which was good for three points.
   In the final quarter, Aaron Spears scored five points, including one trey, and Burns drove down the middle of the court untouched for a shot from inside the paint. However, strong Bulldog defensive play and an offensive effort led by Miller with ten points and Culler with six, gave Hampton eighteen points to win the game.
   North Greene coach David McLain was disappointed with this loss. "We couldn't score the second half. We played hard, but we couldn't score. We couldn't stop their big guys - too strong. (Burns) was shooting the ball and shooting the lights out. The second half, I believe he made one shot. It's tough to come up here and win. I thought our kids played hard."
   The win over North Greene (5-5) was the second for Hampton, whose record is 2-7. Hazelwood was pleased with the turn of events in the second half.
   "We were sort of trapping defense, and I think they rushed their shots a little bit because we couldn't guard Burns and Spears. They ate us up the first half," said Hazelwood. "I think they rushed their shots, and we played a lot of people. They might have gotten tired. When you get tired, your shots are the first thing that goes."
   The win was somewhat of a surprise to Hazelwood. "We had played them earlier, and I knew they were a lot better," he said. "They beat Unicoi last week by ten or eleven. I was scared to death of them, to be honest with you. Their guards are just too... they're small, but they can jump and can shoot - they're just tough to stop. I'm tickled to death. Anytime you can win, when you're struggling like we have been, you've got to be happy."