Hampton, Cloudland split in WVC hoops action
BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
Watauga Valley Conference basketball was on center stage on Friday night at Sonny Smith gymnasium as Hampton took on Cloudland. The Bulldogs (9-9, 2-1 WVC) used tight defense and physicality to turn the Highlanders away by a 56-27 tally, while the home-standing Lady Highlanders had an easy time with the Lady Bulldogs in a 67-26 victory.
“We got the tempo up and played good defense,” Bulldogs head coach Ned Smith said. “We were able to get a lead and it’s always good to be able to steal a road win, especially in the conference. We got to go back to work tomorrow and get ready for another game.”
The ‘Dogs raced to a 19-8 first period lead and extended to a 30-13 halftime advantage as Cloudland’s shooting woes were magnified by missing 14 free throws on 17 attempts. It was 45-23 going into the fourth quarter and both teams emptied their respective benches in the final stanza.
Parker Henry scored a team-high 10 points for the ‘Dogs with post Conor Burleson adding nine to go with seven rebounds. Elijah Blair had a game-high 11 points for Cloudland (4-6, 1-3 WVC) with guard Bentley Gilbert adding six.
The Lady ‘Landers (10-4, 3-1 WVC) forced 21 turnovers on Hampton and were never threatened in this one. Cloudland was good for six trey’s with Gracie Freeman hitting three and Heaven Caraway two. Jasmine Birchfield was good for another as Cloudland shot 26-for-47 (55.3 percent) from the floor – a pace the Lady ‘Dogs could not keep up with.
“We are getting into a rhythm now and getting games in,” Lady ‘Landers head coach Matt Birchfield said. “We share the ball real well and got a lot of kids that don’t care to hit their teammate when they are open. Mandy (Benfield) showed the kind of leader she is getting some rebounds and a couple of offensive post moves to score for and got us off on the right foot.”
Benfield had a game-high 14 points for Cloudland with Ella Benfield adding 12. Jasmine Birchfield and Freeman were each good for 11 points. Guard Madison McClain had a team-high 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs (1-12, 0-2 WVC) with Lindsey Jenkins good for nine points.
Cloudland led 18-5 after one period was in the books and took a 34-13 lead into the halftime break. A 24-point third period by Cloudland led to a continuous running clock in the late stages of this contest.
“We are building some depth and that is important for us,” Birchfield said. “We played some sophomores and juniors and we had three or four freshmen in there. We are trying to get them ready, get them prepared and the kids come in and give good positive minutes.”
Campbell 2, Wilson 8, Henry 10, Lyons 6, Harrison 4, Jenkins 6, Holtsclaw 2, Whitehead 1, McCurry 4, Burleson 9.
Hicks 2, Gilbert 6, Blair 11, Birchfield 4, Benfield 1, McKinney 3.
Hampton 19 11 15 11 – 56
Cloudland 8 5 10 4 – 27
3-point goals: H 1 (McCurry), C 2 (Bentley, McKinney)
Jenkins 9, Guy 3, M. McClain 13, Davis 1.
Caraway 8, M. Benfield 14, J. Birchfield 11, Freeman 11, McKinney 5, E. Benfield 12, Kay Fields 6.
Hampton 8 5 8 5 – 26
Cloudland 18 16 24 10 – 67
3-point goals: H 3 (M. McClain 2, Jenkins), C 6 (Freeman 3, Caraway 2, J. Birchfield)