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Hampton splits with Highlanders

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
A pair of runs by the winning teams were the keys to victory on Friday night at Van Huss / White gymnasium. Hampton (17-9, 9-1) went on an 11-0 run in the second period to blunt Cloudland’s early momentum in a 62-41 Watuaga Valley Conference win.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Highlanders shot the lights out and went on a 31-point run between the first and second periods as Cloudland (17-4, 9-1) trounced the Lady Bulldogs 65-19.
The Highlanders (5-12, 2-8) led 17-16 after one period and appeared poised to threaten an upset but the Bulldogs duo of forward Morgan Lyons and guard Michael Harrison scored 11 straight points to stake the ‘Dogs to a 27-17 advantage en route to a 33-22 halftime lead.
“Our defense stepped up there and we got some turnovers and turned it into offense,” Bulldogs head coach Ned Smith said. “Morgan brought energy and he got nine rebounds, four assists and six steals on top of 14 points. Harrison does a lot for us in terms of deflections. I think we had 18 deflections.”
Hampton extended its lead to 48-34 going into the fourth quarter and the ‘Landers simply didn’t have the firepower to overcome the deficit. Harrison had a game-high 15 points with post Conor Burleson scoring 13 for the ‘Dogs.
For Cloudland, senior guard Bentley Gilbert led the way with 12 points with Caleb Sluder adding 11. Hampton takes on Unicoi County on Saturday before ending the regular season with a clash with Chuckey-Doak on Monday before the district 1A tournament begins on Friday for the boys.
Girls
Cloudland 65
Hampton 19
Senior guard Gracie Freeman scored a game-high 14 points with post Mandy Benfield adding 13 and Jasmine Birchfield had 10 as the Lady ‘Landers shot 27-for-43 (62.7 percent) from the floor.
Hampton for its part couldn’t find the range all night dropping in just six buckets – two from beyond the arc – for the entire contest.
“I thought we came out for a big conference game prepared,” Lady ‘Landers head coach Matt Birchfield said. “We stepped up defensively and offensively I thought we had a lot of kids score points, share the ball and we played team ball.”
Cloudland took a 28-3 lead after one period and had a 42-9 halftime advantage. Maddison McClain and Linzy Jenkins each scored six points for the ‘Dogs.

Boys
Hampton 62-41
Cloudland (41)
Hicks 6, Shell 8, Gilbert 12, Blair 4, Sluder 11
Hampton (62)
Harrison 15, Henry 4, Lyons 14, Jenkins 1, Whitehead 6, McCurry 5, Burleson 13, Campbell 4.

Cloudland 17 5 12 7 – 41
Hampton 16 17 15 14 – 65
3-point goals: C 4 (Gilbert 2, Shell, Sluder), H 2 (Harrison, McCurry).

Girls
Cloudland 65-19
Cloudland (65)
Christman 2, Caraway 8, M. Benfield 13, J. Birchfield 10, Freeman 14, Kar. Fields 5, K. Birchfield 3, McKinney 5, E. Benfield 4, K. Fields 1.
Hampton (19)
Orr 2, Jenkins 6, Berry 3, Guy 2, M. McClain 6.

Cloudlamd 28 14 14 8 – 65
Hampton 3 6 8 2 – 19
3-point goals: C 7 (Freeman 2, Caraway 2, M. Benfield, Kar. Fields, K. Birchfield), H 2 (Berry, M. McClain).