Johnson leads Cloudland in win against Lebanon

Published 11:22 pm Saturday, November 21, 2015

BLUFF CITY–While Peyton Manning is struggling to stay in the Denver Broncos lineup, another “Payton” who plays sports in the mountains helped lead the Cloudland Lady Highlanders to a big win on Saturday and won’t be finding herself sitting on the sidelines anytime soon.

Cloudland post player Payton Johnson only had six points at halftime, but her 20-point second half performance and 26-point effort as a whole propelled the Lady Highlanders to a 49-36 victory over Lebanon (Va.) in the TSSAA Hall of Champions at the Dyer Dome at Sullivan East High School.

The Lady Landers’ fell to Three Rivers Conference power Sullivan East 74-52 earlier in the morning at the Dyer Dome.

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Cloudland for six quarters struggled, then they put the game and really the day into Johnson’s hands and she delivered with by putting on a second half show.

The Landers kept feeding her the ball and she kept driving to the hoop and nobody could stop her for Lebanon.

The Lady Landers outscored Lebanon 28-15 in the second half and came away with their second in win in two days of Hall of Champions play.

“We played hard,” said Cloudland head coach Lucas Andrews. “We knew going into the season she could be a real tough player and give people fits. In my halftime speech I aid we have to get Payton the ball.

“She is a very strong player and drives to the basket and finishes a lot of them. She is a very good player doing that.”

Just like her namesake in Denver did for many years as a Bronco and as a Colt, Johnson pretty much put the team on her back and decided they were not leaving Bluff City without a victory in Hall of Champions.

Her leadership showed in the second half and her teammates responded by giving her the basketball.

“I saw we were down and that we needed to win and I did all I could,” said Johnson. “Lucas challenged me definitely put a fire in me to want to win.

“I would have died if we hadn’t won. I love winning more than anything.
Shian Strickland was next in scoring with seven, followed by Trinity Vines with six, Erin Julian and Johann Johnson with three and Lisa Ellis and Megan Lunsford with two.
Sullivan East     74
Cloudland          52.
Coach Andrews is pretty much chalking this game up to how good the Lady Patriots shot the basketball, as they lit up the scoreboard for 33 points in the opening eight minutes and never looked back on a day where East forward Kara Stafford scored her 1,000th point for her illustrious Lady Patriot career.
“Sullivan East is very good,” said Andrews. “They are a AAA school, they triple us in size, but that’s no excuse. They drive and kick very well and they shoot the lights out. I don’t know how many shots they missed, but I think it was in single digits. They are pretty dang good.”
Johnann Johnson led Cloudland with 14, followed by Erin Julian, Patricia Singleton and Megan Lunsford with six, Lisa Ellis and Shian Strickland with five, Payton Johnson and Trinity Vines with four and Stacia Wilson with two.