Cloudland sweeps past Unaka

Published 11:58 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Unaka traveled to Roan Mountain hoping to end an eight game losing streak on Tuesday night at Sonny Smith gym as they took on Cloudland in a Watauga Valley Conference clash. Unfortunately, the Highlanders had the hot hand with Preston Benfield scoring 20 points and Cloudland dominated the Rangers 68-40.

Cloudland (14-10, 6-3 WVC) opened with a 22-8 first quarter as Preston Benfield was good for three buckets and a trey and Colby Birchfield and Chris Wagoner were also good from long range.

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“We really showed some fire at the first part of the game,” Benfield said. “It’s all about focus and we have to try to keep that fire through the whole game. How we practice is how we play.”

Unaka closed the Highlanders lead to 27-23 when senior guard Joe Searfoss hit back-to-back three-balls with 2:56 remaining.

The ‘Landers outscored the Rangers 6-3 the rest of the way to take a 33-26 halftime lead.

In the third period Benfield continued to carry the ‘Landers offensively with a trey and a pair of two point baskets to give him 16 points at that stage as Cloudland took a 48-38 lead into the fourth quarter.

Cloudland scored the first 20 points of the fourth quarter and took a 58-38 lead at the 4:36 mark of regulation as Benfield hit a bucket, as did Jesse Potter and Chris Wagoner was good for a pair of deuces in the run.

Birchfield hit a free throw and a deuce as the ‘Landers now led 61-38 as Unaka missed its first eight shots of the stanza while the ‘Landers hit seven-of-11 shots. Bryson Street collected the only points of the period for Unaka when he hit a two pointer just before the buzzer.

“Preston played good,” ‘Landers head coach Gary Harrison said. “We played well in spurts offensively. Defensively we had some lapses that we prepared for but we didn’t really do consistently. I feel that we weren’t consistent and have to play better defense. Unaka’s kids really played hard and for parts of the game played harder than we did. Offensively we executed and did a good job on the boards.”


Cloudland 61, Unaka 60 (OT)

A game Unaka led most of the first half turned in favor of Cloudland when Lisa Ellis completed a three-point play to stake the Lady Highlanders to a 26-24 lead. Shian Strickland led all scorers with 11 first half points – including a trey – as Cloudland (12-11, 5-4 WVC) outscored Unaka 25-16 in the second period to take a 32-28 halftime advantage.

“Unaka was looking at stopping our outside shooting,” said Lady ‘Landers head coach Lucas Andrews. “Shian had been shooting the ball well lately and they knew that. And even with them guarding her close she still ended in double figures.”

Strickland finished with a game high 15 points and had seven rebounds.

Sophomore Katlyn Weaver led the Lady Rangers with seven points in the first half and Sydney Markland had six points on a pair of three-balls. Unaka began the first period going inside and senior post Sierra Wright had a bucket and freshman Myah Parlier had a pair of baskets in the paint as the Rangers led 12-7 after one quarter.

In the third period Unaka (14-10, 3-6 WVC) closed to 34-32 after a basket from Weaver, but the ‘Landers went on a five point run on buckets from Ellis and Strickland and one-of-two from the line from Trinity Vines as Cloudland now led 39-34.

Wright completed a three-point play for Unaka, but Singleton answered at the other end for Cloudland. The Rangers then got a bucket from freshman guard Savannah Tipton that ‘Landers freshman guard Megan Lunsford answered.

The teams battled through the fourth period with a Sarah Tipton trey tying the score at 49-49 with 4:49left in regulation. A deuce from Hannah Tipton once again knotted the score at 53-53 with 3:08 left in the period.

The fourth period ended 54-54 forcing an overtime period and Katlyn Burrow opened the quarter with a bucket that was answered by Vines in the paint. Burrow connected on a free throw but senior guard Peyton Johnson hit a deuce in the paint to give Cloudland a one point lead at 58-57.

“That’s what we ask from our senior leader,” Andrews said. “We went to her and she made a great shot inside, which was what we were wanting. This game was back and forth and really they did a good job defending our outside game so we had to go inside.”

Hannah Tipton buried a three-ball to stake the Rangers to a 60-58 lead but Johnson tied the game again with a bucket off a rebound and after a Unaka miss, Erin Julian got the rebound and was fouled. She hit one of two with 2.1 seconds left and Unaka’s long range shot came up short.


Cloudland 61-60 (OT)

Unaka (60)

S. Tipton 5, H. Tipton 12, Sav. Tipton 2, Markland 6, Burrow 9, Weaver 12, Wright 7, Parlier 6, Potter 1.

Cloudland (61)

Wilson 5, Strickland 15, Johnson 8, Julian 3, Ellis 12, Lunsford 4, Vines 9, Singleton 5.

Unaka 12 16 11 15 6 – 60

Cloudland 7 25 11 11 7 – 61

3-point goals: U 6-12 (S.Tipton 1-1, H. Tipton 1-2, Garland 0-1, Markland 2-2, Burrow 1-2, Weaver 1-4), C 1-5 (Strickland 1-3, Julian 0-1, Ellis 0-1)


Cloudland 68-40

Unaka (40)

Lewis 9, Searfoss 16, Chambers 6, Ramsey 5, Ensor 2, Street 2.

Cloudland (68)

Birchfield 13, Blair 2, P. Benfield 20, Wagoner 15, Potter 9, Vines 4, Mull 2, Leeper 3.

Unaka 8 18 12 2 – 40

Cloudland 22 11 15 20 – 68

3-point goals : U 7- 16 (Lewis 2-5, Searfoss 4-10, Ramsey 1-1), C 7-18 (Birchfield 2-5, P. Benfield 2-4, Wagoner 1-1, Potter 1-4, Mull 0-1, Trivette 0-2, Leeper 1-1)