Lady ‘Landers defeat Avery in thriller, Vikings roll

Published 12:38 am Saturday, January 21, 2017

Star Photo/Curtis Carden  Lady Highlander Shian Strickland attempts a 3-pointer in the first half against Avery County. Strickland finished with 16 points on the night.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Lady Highlander Shian Strickland attempts a 3-pointer in the first half against Avery County. Strickland finished with 16 points on the night.

Standing room only awaited attendees for Friday night’s border battle inside Sonny Smith Gymnasium.

It was a mixed results for Cloudland as the Lady Highlanders came out victorious against Avery County (N.C.) 53-49, while the boys fell to the Vikings 91-75.

Lady Highlanders 53

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Lady Vikings 49

When push came to shove, Lady ‘Lander Shian Strickland would not be denied.

The senior scored 11 of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter to help deter a potential Lady Vikings win.

Staying calm and collected in pressure situations comes natural for Strickland, according to head coach Lucas Andrews. Down the stretch, the senior hit three-of-four free throws with time ticking away in the fourth quarter to help her squad secure the victory.

“That’s Shian Strickland,” Andrews said. “She’s the leader of this team. You don’t have to say anything to her. She puts the team on her back when she needs to. If she wasn’t making shots, she getting girls open so they could make shots. She’s a special player for us, she puts things together.”

The lockdown defensive effort was true down low late in the game for Cloudland. In the final six minutes, the Lady ‘Landers were able to keep Avery County off the boards with Stacia Wilson and Don Rae Taylor wreaking havoc, while Strickland and Lisa Ellis were also pesky on the edges providing pressure to the Lady Vikings.

As the crowd stayed active throughout the contest, the victory proved to be a great learning experience for the team.

“We talked about the environment after the game,” Andrews said. “It’s a fun environment … this is such a great place to play at when you get these two schools together. It’s fun coaching it, it’s fun playing in it … I’m glad our girls found a way down the stretch to win it.

Johanna Johnson led it rain from behind the arc with nine points, all from 3-pointers whileTaylor chipped in seven points. Trinity Vines tacked on eight points while Ellis, Stacia Wilson, Abbey Gouge and Megan Lunsford each hit the scoring column in the win.

The Lady ‘Landers will be back in action Tuesday in Roan Mountain as they welcome University High in Watauga Valley Conference play. Cloudland moved their record to 12-8 with the win.

Vikings 91

Highlanders 75

Andy Dominguez and Deacon Heath had things rolling for the boys from North Carolina early and often.

The duo combined for 48 points as Avery County rolled to victory after a tough first quarter of play.

Cloudland (10-13) was able to click on all cylinders with Brinkley Mull leading the 19-point frame with nine points, all from behind the arc. The Vikings stormed ahead heading into halftime with a 47-40 lead.

Robert Leeper led the attack for the ‘Landers with a team-high 20 points. Jason Potter and Preston Benfield joined their teammate in double figures with 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Malachi Benfield pitched in a seven-point effort while Josh Blair and Jake Perrigoy rounded out the scoring with six points each.

Avery County saw 10 players reaching the scoring column with Heath leading the way with 28 points, while Dominguez dropped 20 points. Jeffrey Puckett joined his teammates in double figures with 16 points to lead the scoring for the Vikings.

The ‘Landers will be back in action Tuesday with a conference tilt against University High with game time set for 8 p.m.