Happy Valley slips past Chuckey-Doak
Published 9:58 pm Friday, February 26, 2016
CHUCKEY — It was a silent bus ride for the Happy Valley Lady Warriors as they traveled to Chuckey-Doak on Friday night. But it wasn’t a silent night for their leader.
Senior Kalee Johnson finished the night with 37 points to help the Lady Warriors claim a 69-65 victory to advance to the semi-finals of the Region 1-AA Tournament.
“We were just trying to get focused, because we didn’t want this to be our last game,” Johnson said about the silent ride to Chuckey. “We just didn’t want it to end for us tonight, we wanted another chance at Elizabethton.”
Johnson finished the night with 10 rebounds, five blocks and four steals, but it was her and her teammates demeanor before the contest that let Happy Valley coach Larry Abel Jr. know how focused his team was.
“I had a new bus driver that drove me up tonight and he made the comment that it was the quietest bunch of kids that he had ever driven in his life,” Abel Jr. said. “I told him it was because they were focused and ready to play and we had a good game face coming down and the seniors didn’t want it to end here tonight.”
However, the bus ride home could have been just as silent for the Lady Warriors as they missed 14-of-32 free throws on the night and 8-of-16 to close out the final two minutes of the contest.
Chuckey-Doak’s Hope Majors knocked down a 3-pointer with seven-seconds remaining to make the score 68-65, but Bailey McGee connected on 1-of-2 free throws to put the game out of reach. McGee finished with four points on the night, while Kaitlyn Roberts connected for nine points and Emily Whitaker and Kenzie Davis hit six a piece.
“I’m not real excited about our free throw shooting tonight,” Abel Jr. said. “That can bite you and that was why it was a closer game than it was…But we made enough to win and that is what it takes when you go on the road at regional time.”
The Lady Black Knights were led by Taylor Southerland with 15 points, Keri Ricker finished with 12 and Erica Lamb contributed 11.
The Lady Warriors jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter, with Johnson adding nine of those points. They went on to spread their lead in the second quarter, going on a 9-3 run in the first four minutes of the second period to take a 23-11 lead.
However, the Lady Warriors weren’t able to pull away altogether, letting the Lady Black Knights creep back into the contest in the final minutes of the period. But the Lady Warriors were able to take a 33-25 lead into the locker room after McGee connected on 1-of-2 free throws.
To start the third period, Roberts connected on back-to-back 3-pointers for the Lady Warriors and Johnson hit a basket to ballon their lead to 41-25. Johnson was only able to score one more bucket in the quarter as Chuckey-Doak coach Beth Frye employed face guarding her for the reminder of the period.
It worked, for a quarter, but that wasn’t much longer than Frye expected it too.
“A player of her caliber, you can’t stop her, you can just hope to slow her down,” she said. “We didn’t do a good job of that tonight, but we knew she was a great player and we did the best we could do, I guess, at times.”
The close fourth period saw Happy Valley only outscore their opponent 22-21, but it was enough to set up a Region 1-AA semifinal showdown with Elizabethton after their victory over Cumberland Gap.
“Its going to be a tough test for us, they have players all around,” Johnson said. “It will be hard and it will be tough, but we will see what we can do.”
Happy Valley 69, Chuckey-Doak 65
HAPPY VALLEY (69) Johnson 37, Roberts 9, McGee 7, Davis 6, Whitaker 6, Heneger 2, Bare 1
CHUCKEY-DOAK (65) Southerland 15, Ricker 12, Lamb 11, Hegarty 9, Myers 7, Majors 7, Ramsey 4
Happy Valley 14 19 14 22 – 69
Chuckey-Doak 8 17 19 21 – 65
3 Pt FG – Happy Valley 9 (Johnson 4, Roberts 3, Whitaker), South Greene 2 (Myers, Majors)