Happy Valley holds on to top Cloudland, 55-52

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Star Photo/Bryce Phillips  Happy Valley's Haley Green drives in for a layup during Monday's night contest at Cloudland.

Star Photo/Bryce Phillips
Happy Valley’s Haley Green drives in for a layup during Monday’s night contest at Cloudland.

ROAN Mountain—In a contest that came down to the wire, the Happy Valley Lady Warriors were able to sneak past Cloudland 55-52 in a non-conference showdown.
For Happy Valley, the win comes after two tough losses during its Thanksgiving tournament over the weekend. The win came at the right time, said Happy Valley head coach Larry Abel Jr.
“At media night, I said, early on, that we would have trouble finding our identity as a team,” Abel said. “We have gone through some early season struggles trying to find a team identity. And tonight, I feel like we took a step in the right direction.”
After one, the Lady Highlanders had worked out to a small 11-10 lead over the Lady Warriors as Cloudland’s Abbey Gouge knocked down a bucket off a rebound to push the Lady Highlanders out front heading into the second frame.
At the opening of the second quarter, Cloudland’s Trinity Vines boarded a missed shot and put it back up for two, before Don Rae Taylor swished a three to expand the Lady ‘Landers’ lead to 15-11. Back-to-back unanswered buckets by Cloudland’s Shian Strickland and Stacia Wilson would give the Lady Highlanders a 19-11 edge with less than four minutes left in the first half. Down the first-half stretch, Happy Valley senior Emily Whitaker went 7-of-7 from the charity strip to cut Cloudland’s lead down to two points before Happy Valley’s Baley McGee nailed a layup on a fast break to tie the game up at 22-22 heading into the half.
After three-quarters of play, Cloudland held a tiny 40-38 lead.
Much like the whole game the final quarter was a back-and-forth battle. Up 40-38, Strickland nailed an early bucket to jump her team out to a four-point lead. However, with McGee and Adriene Henegar knocking down back-to-back threes, the Lady Warriors were able to climb out ahead 44-42 with 5:51 left in the game. Strickland stole the ball and drove downcourt before drawing a foul and sinking two foul shots to tie thing up at 44-44. With less than four minutes left to go, Happy Valley, taking advantage of steals, posted six unanswered points, with HV’s Haley Green hitting four of the points and McGee draining two foul shots to give the Lady Warriors a 51-44 lead with less than two minutes to play. In the final minutes, the Lady Highlanders outscored Happy Valley 8-4 with Strickland and Johanna Johnson hitting three-pointers. However, the Lady Warriors were able to hold on for dear life with Whitaker hitting a layup to give Happy Valley its final 55-52 total.
“We got within two minutes and had a good five-point lead,” said Abel. “I wanted to let the air out of it, following in Coach Bayless’s footsteps. We wanted to hold it and take layups. Coming down the stretch there, we missed a couple of layups that figured in big right there because we gave them an opportunity, and they did a good job capitalizing on that.
“We kept battling to the end and did the right things,” Abel continued. “We did the little things that we had to do.”
The Lady Warriors were led by three 11-point games from McGee, Whitaker, and Henegar. The Lady Highlanders saw Shian Strickland post 14 points while Taylor posted ten points and Lisa Ellis had eight.
“It was a grind,” said Cloudland head coach Lucas Andrews. “They pulled away, but I though we miss some easy shots, and I thought that was a big difference.”
Tonight Cloudland will host Johnson County, while Happy Valley hosts Unaka.

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