Lady Dogs, Lady Horns fall in High Country

Photo by Kristen Luther
Hampton’s Lauren Pitman gets fouled by Mann’s Trevone Williams.

 By Don Teague
  Hamton's Lady Bulldogs fell to South Carolina powerhouse J.L. Mann of Greenville 64-45 in opening round action of the High Country Girls' Prep Classic in Banner Elk, N.C. Monday night.
  Mann's Lady Patriots, who won the classic last year, return a lineup with three starters back from a team that finished fifth in the state last year with a 25-3 record.
  One starter has already signed a college letter-of-intent, and three others are being actively recruited by Division I and II schools.
  Despite all that talent, the 'Dogs played toe-to-toe with their foes from the Palmetto State for the first eight minutes of the game and trailed only 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.
  Mann drew first blood just eight seconds into the contest when Trevone Williams took the opening tip and converted from the top of the key to put her team up 2-0.
  Heather Chambers answered for the 'Dogs 30 seconds later with a 15-footer from the wing to knot things up at 2-2.
  The teams exchanged leads seven more times in the next six minutes before Mann took the lead for good, 12-11, with just over a minute left in the first period.
  The Patriots reeled off 11 unanswered points in the first 2:13 of the second quarter to go up 27-13, when Jessi Price made a nice move for two in the paint to stop the bleeding for the 'Dogs.
  Carrie Carden converted a three-point play to pull Hampton within 10 at 32-22 with 1:37 left in the half, but that was as close as the Bulldogs would get for the remainder of the game.
  The Patriots took a 51-32 lead into the last quarter and stretched that to 57-34 with 4:55 remaining, when Chambers and backcourt running mate Lauren Pitman led a last-gasp run at the Patriots.
  The two Lady 'Dogs combined for nine points in a minute and 20 seconds to cut the lead to 59-43 with 3:32 remaining, but it was too little, too late.
  The Patriots converted five-of-six bonus fouls shots down the stretch to win by the final score of 64-45.
  Six-foot-one Trevone Williams led the Patriots with 18 points, followed by point guard Marie Marques with 17 and smooth-passing junior Sharlese Wadelington with nine.
  The 'Dogs were led by Chambers, who played an outstanding game, with 16, and Pitman, who scored seven points in the last period on her way to 14 for the game.
  J.L. Mann remains undefeated at 12-0 with the win and moves on to play Haysi (VA), 67-42 victors over Statesville (NC) Christian, in the winners bracket.
  Hampton, who drops to 4-6 with the loss, will play Statesville Christian today at 4:30 p.m.
  Johnson County's Lady Longhorns dug themselves a deep hole in the first half against Avery County, and a furious fourth quarter rally couldn't pull them out, as they dropped a 46-32 decision to the Lady Vikings in the 7:30 game.
  The Lady 'Horns, playing minus the services of point guard April McCloud, who was seeing her visiting father off at the airport, hit only one field goal and two of six free throws in the first half.
  Hope Jennings countered with seven points in the first two periods to lead Avery County to 17-4 lead at intermission.
  The Vikings extended that lead to 33-15 heading into the final quarter when Coach Eric Crabtree had words for his squad that woke them up.
  "Coach was telling us that we were a better team than we were showing out there," said 'Horn Ashley Howard, "And we all knew that, so we were motivated to come out and play, because we didn't look like it in the first half."
  Howard and Jenny Tugman led the Longhorns on a 14-3 run to start the fourth quarter, cutting the Avery County lead to 36-29 with 2:18 left to play when Brittany Cole connected on two free throws.
  The Lady Vikings were able to convert clutch free throws down the stretch, however, as they hit seven of 10 chances from the line to hold off the charging Longhorns by a final score of 46-32.
  Coach Crabtree praised the efforts of his players as they tried to get back in the game.
  "We kind of stood around there in the first half," said Crabtree. "We got a second wind there in the second half, started cutting to the bucket and playing more aggressive on defense. I don't think we gave up too many easy buckets there in the second half."
  "Ashley did a good job out there, and Jenny crashed the boards for us," he continued, referring to Howard's subbing at the point, and Tugman's efforts in the rally. "The ball just wouldn't fall for us. We had several in-and-outers but you have nights like that."
  Tugman led JC with nine points, Cole had six and Howard finished with five. Jennings led all scorers with 15 for the Vikings.
  The 'Horns, now 1-5, return to tourney action against Union Pines (NC) tonight at 6 p.m.
  Avery County will tangle with the Lady Highlanders of Cloudland, 54-51 winners over Union Pines in a late game, at 7:30 p.m.