Happy Valley outguns South down stretch to advance to semifinals, 73-55

Published 11:18 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016


KINGSPORT—The Lady Rebels of Sullivan South came out playing with heart so big that even the tin man from the Wizard of Oz would have been jealous.

However, there wouldn’t be a trip to the Emerald City in the cards for the Lady Rebels as Coach Larry Abel’s Happy Valley Lady Warriors sandwich two big quarters around two evenly played ones to register a 73-55 win.

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The victory puts the Lady Warriors into the regional tournament and now they will meet up with Sullivan East in one semifinal contest on Saturday at 3 p.m. with a slot in the district championship up for grabs.

“When we first came out, I told the girls I could remember back when I played for Coach Bayless, and we were a first-place team with 25 or 26 wins on the season coming in against a team similar to South and didn’t have automatic bids back then, and we got taken out in the first game of the district,” said Abel about his early warning to his team.

“I told the girls before the game that at the end of the day today I want us to have no excuses, no explanations and no regrets and the girls had the sense of urgency there late to settle down on offense and got our defense rolling finally to end the game,” added Abel. “Give South a whole lot of credit. They played with a tough heart and did not want their season to end.”

With a bipartisan crowd on hand in support of the host Lady Rebels, Happy Valley was able to build a 17-11 lead after one quarter of play behind six points each from Kalee Johnson and Kaitlyn Roberts whose points came via two treys.

Avery Hutchins logged five points and Madison Townsend four to keep the Lady Rebels within six points at the first horn.

Both teams played even quarters in the second and third as each would score 12 in the second and 16 in the third.

Johnson continued to play solidly scoring 21 of her game-high 29 points in the first three periods. It was, however, the play of freshman Adrienne Henegar, who seemed to find the shot the Lady Warriors needed when the Lady Rebels kept creeping back into the contest.

“I can’t say enough about how hard Adrienne plays,” stated Abel. “I am very fortunate with the freshmen that I have. They really came on late in the season.

“With the competition we’ve had in practice, they have really stepped up and there have been some battles in practice,” added Abel. “Adrienne has been there going toe-to-toe with them. That’s why I had her in there tonight. She really stepped up.”

After going toe-to-toe for three and a half quarters of play, the Lady Rebels quickly began to fade as the Lady Warriors defensive pressure and ability to get good looks at the bucket quickly ballooned the game from an eight-point Lady Warriors edge around the four minute mark to 20 points with only 1:30 left to play.

Henegar finished off the contest with 15 points as the only other Lady Warrior in double-figure scoring. Roberts closed out with eight points with Emily Whitaker adding seven.

Townsend paced the host Lady Rebels with 16 points while Hutchins collected 13. Hannah Clark chipped in with nine while Emily Ireson registered seven.

“I knew that I was going to have to step it up so I wouldn’t let my teammates down,” said Henegar after the contest. “I saw my opportunity, so I just took the shots. I think that it’s great that he (Abel) has the confidence to put me in there knowing that I will try my hardest.



Happy Valley, 73-55

Sullivan South (55)

Mollie Leslie 6, Meredith St. Clair 2, Emily Ireson 7, Avery Hutchins 13, Madeline Leslie 2, Hannah Clark 9, Madison Townsend 16.

Happy Valley (73)

Bayley McGee 6, Kaitlyn Roberts 8, Brianna Buck 2, Adrienne Henegar 15, Emily Whitaker 7, Kalee Johnson 29, Charli Bare 3, Destiny Hyatt 3.

Sullivan South……11   12   16   16 – 55

Happy Valley.…….17   12   16   28 – 73

3-PT GOALS: Sullivan South 6 (Avery Hutchins 3, Hannah Clark 3). Happy Valley 5 (Adrienne Henegar 2, Kaitlyn Roberts 2, Emily Whitaker).

Thursday’s Final Game

Unicoi 43-31

Sullivan North (31)

Harrison 2, Vaughn 7, Bradley 17, Lunceford 2, Peters 3.

Unicoi County (43)

N. Griffith 8, Powers 15, Edwards 8, King 6, Rice 2, Lynch 2, A. Griffith 2.

Sullivan North 2 3 8 18 — 31

Unicoi County 6 13 13 11 — 43

3-pt. goals — North 1 (Peters), Unicoi 4 (Powers 2, King 2).