University High rallies past Lady ‘Landers

Published 10:19 pm Monday, February 22, 2016


GRAY – The third place – or so-called ‘consolation’ game – in the girls District 1-A tournament pitted fourth seeded Cloudland against sixth seed University High on Monday evening at Bobby Snyder gym.

The Lady Junior Buccaneers have found a way to come up big in the fourth period of late, and Monday night was no different as senior forward Lexi Crouthers scored 13 of her game high 19 points in the final period as UH defeated Cloudland 49-46.

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“(Crouthers) has done that all tournament,” Lady ‘Landers head coach Lucas Andrews said. “Her and number 14 (Elise Howard) can shoot with anyone. I think we got a little complacent after having made some shots. At halftime I told them to keep plugging away and doing what we were doing.”

The Lady Highlanders (14-12 overall) opened the tourney with a 34-31 win over Unaka before falling on Saturday 67-31 to top seeded South Greene. The Lady Buccaneers (8-13 overall) upset third seeded Hampton 35-34 on Friday night on a buzzer beating three pointer from senior guard Elise Howard.

The Bucs then fell to North Greene 59-54 on Saturday to set the scene for Monday’s clash.

Cloudland took the early lead 11-6 after one period with Shian Strickland hitting from long distance with a deuce and Payton Johnson hitting two deuces for the ‘Landers.

Senior post Ari Ramsarin helped lead a UH second quarter splurge with a pair of buckets along with Howard’s two deuces as the Bucs cut the ‘Landers lead to 23-21 with 1:06 to go before the half.

Johnson had an offensive rebound put back for two just before the buzzer sounded to lift Cloudland to a 25-21 halftime lead. Johnson and Strickland each had eight first half points to lead Cloudland while Ramsarin had as many for UH.

The teams traded buckets to open the third period with Lisa Ellis connecting for Cloudland and Lexi Crouthers for the Bucs. Ramsarin collected her 10th point of the game with a two pointer in the paint as UH closed to within 27-25 with 4:00 left in the stanza.

Ellis and Johnson went back-to-back as Cloudland extended to a 31-25 lead with a tick over three minutes left in the third quarter forcing a UH timeout. Ellis struck again for the ‘Landers and after a Bucs miss at the other end Johnson scored again to make it a 35-25 contest.

Cloudland extended its run to nine points with a free throw from Strickland and the ‘Landers ended the quarter with a 36-25 advantage. UH opened the fourth period with a 10-2 run – including a pair three-ball’s from Crouthers – to close to within 38-35 with 6:35 left in regulation.

Crouthers third long range shot knotted the score at 38-38 with 4:17 left to play, and giving her a game high 17 points. Johnson answered for Cloudland but Howard hit a pair of scoop shots from the baseline to give UH a 42-40 lead with 53 ticks of the clock left to go.

“That was a game changer,” Lady Bucs head coach Randy Winstead said of Crouthers heroics. “We didn’t press the whole game until we were down by 10, I think and we got some turnovers. Then we hit some big shots that really got us back in the game. I feel like we are on a good roll right now and I feel good about our chances against either team we face in the regional.”

Johnson hit one-of-two free throws to cut the lead to one with 42.2 remaining. At the other end Howard hit four consecutive shots from the line as UH built a 46-41 lead before a Johnson bucket cut the lead to three.

With UH leading 48-43 after a free throw from Crouthers, Strickland buried a trey to make it a 48-46 game with less than five seconds left in regulation.


District 1-A tournament

University High 49-46

University High (49)

Crouthers 19, Howard 17, Newberry 1, Ramsarin 10, Crabtree 2.

Cloudland (46)

Strickland 14, Johnson 17, Ellis 8, Lunsford 3, Vines 4

University High 6 15 4 24 – 49

Cloudland 11 14 11 10 – 46

3-point goals: UH 3-10 (Crouthers 3-6, Oiler 0-1, Howard 0-1, Newberry 0-1, Ramsarin 0-1), C 4-15 (Strickland 2-4, J. Johnson 0-3, Ellis 0-4, Lunsford 1-1, Vines 1-2, Singleton 0-1).