Tourneys prove to be good practice

By Wes Holtsclaw

   Many teams use tournaments to show their progress through a certain point of the season. Other teams hope that their performances can alter their course.
   The area teams are about to enter into a large buffet of conference games and tournaments such as the Shoun's Lumber Carter County Classic, which can keep a team prepared during the off weeks.
   This year, the Happy Valley Warriors topped Hampton for the championship in what was an old fashioned barn-burner in the early phases of the game.
   "I think anytime you win a tournament, it gives your boys pride and it makes them want to win more," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless. "It's great."
   Hampton played Happy Valley close until the Warriors got some solid inside rebounding from Alex Carroll and Tim Whaley, the tournament's MVP.
   Happy Valley had ten steals and a block with their 38 rebounds, including 13 boards on the offensive side.
   After playing Cloudland in the second round of the tournament, Happy Valley became the only team in the county to play each of the other county squads this season.
   It says a lot about Coach Bayless' team. Bayless has had to drop Cloudland from their schedule on a regular basis due to the addition of teams to the conference, but scrimmaged them before the season.
   In other classic games, David Crockett beat North Greene, Unicoi County topped University High and Tri-Cities Christian provided Cloudland a loss after the 'Landers shot 4.41 percent from the field in the game.
   Overall, the Hampton tournament was a success again this season.
   According to Bulldog coach Bud Hazelwood, it's a good thing for the communities involved.
   "It would've went better if we had of won, but it went pretty good," Hazelwood said. "Each school makes a lot of money on it as we split the gate."
   "This year, I think we gained a lot of confidence from it, winning two and played Happy Valley tooth and nail for two and a half quarters," he said. "It's just a good local tournament, and it's good for the community."
   Cloudland will rebound, as will the Bulldogs.
   As far as the upcoming conference play is concerned, the Warriors have a lot to look forward to, as does the Elizabethton Cyclones, who have participated in the Arby's Classic.
   The Cyclones have played solid ball against some tough teams, including the nation's 19th best unit in Memphis White Station, and will get a rematch with the Bahamas unit in Wednesday's consolation game.
   Elizabethton and Happy Valley are among the favorites in the Watauga Conference, with Volunteer and Sullivan Central. It can be anybody's race towards the end of the season.
   "It's going to be a close, knock down, drag out series of games," Bayless added.
   Cloudland has some big conference games left against Unaka, who many believe are the favorite in the Watauga Valley Conference.
   Most Valuable Player: Tim Whaley, Happy Valley
   Happy Valley - Todd Caldwell, Andrew Bowman; Hampton - Adam Miller, Travis Smith; Tri-Cities Christian - David Rudd; Cloudland - Mark Byrd; Unicoi County - Jonathan Grindstaff; University High - John Tillman; David Crockett - William Haston; North Greene - Matthew Burns.
   Playing in a tough Roane County Tournament, the Unaka Lady Rangers made a valiant comeback but fell short against Kingston, losing 42-37 Monday evening.
   The Lady Rangers will meet Oneida in the final round of the round robin tournament at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
   Kingston only made one field goal in the fourth quarter, but was victorious after hitting ten free throws and only missed three shots from the charity stripe in the entire game.
   Julie Roberson led Unaka with 10 points, while Renee and Danielle Ensor had eight and seven points apiece.
   Sarah Cupp led Kingston with 11, while teammate Amber Lunsford added 10.