Lady Highlanders rock Hancock, 65-35; Leeper hits 1000 points

Published 7:37 am Monday, November 19, 2018

The Hancock County Indians made the trip over Roan Mountain Thursday to face off with Cloudland in some Hall of Champions contests.
In the girls’ game, the Lady Highlanders, after a slow beginning, rolled right past the Lady Indians for a 65-35 win. The nightcap saw the Highlanders fall, 69-61, to a hot shooting Hancock team, which is expected to be the favorite in District 2-A ball.
The loss overshadowed a big moment for the Highlanders. Senior Robert Leeper surpassed the 1000 career points milestone. Leeper was given the game ball by Cloudland head coach Gary Harrison.
“He is the type of kid that always does what is asked of him, and he never complains,” said Harrison. “He just wants to win. When he was a freshman, a lot of people didn’t know if he was going to be good. He is just a testament to if you love something and work at it, you can excel.”
Leeper finished the game with 20 points to pace the Highlanders.
The opening period saw the Indians work out to a 21-17 lead heading into the second quarter. The Highlanders, however, got hot from outside in the second period as Dillion Johnson and Leeper connected on a trey each while Logan Barnett knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to give Cloudland a 33-31 lead heading into the half.
The Indians worked out to a 49-46 lead late in the third period before Johnson and Cloudland’s Hunter Shell hit a pair of 3-pointers to give the Highlanders a narrow 52-51 lead heading into the fourth.
A 17-3 run allowed Hancock to move out to a 66-55 lead midway through the fourth. The Indians outpaced Cloudland 20-9 in the fourth in route to a victory.
“Hancock has a very good basketball team,” said Harrison. “We knew that we were going to have our hands full. I was proud of the effort, especially with just three days of practice with our football kids. We have to work on our discipline and conditioning.”
Coffey followed Leeper up with 15 points on the night.
It took a moment for the Lady Highlander to get rolling Thursday, but when they did, there was no stopping them. Towards the back end of the first quarter, the Lady Highlanders conducted a 13-point run that saw Cloudland’s Megan Lunsford and Gracie Freeman makes some pretty feeds to open teammates. At the end of one, Cloudland held an 18-5 lead. Freeman and Stacia Wilson had five points each in the first to lead the Lady Highlanders.
“We had some nerves and missed some shots,” said Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford. “We have been shooting really good in scrimmages. These kids just love playing the game.
“We did a really good job of making good passes,” added Lunsford. “We played very unselfishly.”
The Lady Highlanders kept rolling in the second quarter outscoring¬†Hancock 20-8 to take a 38-l13 lead into the half. The second saw Cloudland Mandy Benfield and Trinity Vines post four points each to help the Lady ‘Landers’ efforts.
Cloudland had its most productive quarter in the third as they posted 23 points. Six of those points came from two 3-pointers from Lunsford. Under the net, Wilson worked the ball for six points while Freeman scored five.
Vines and Wilson finished the game with a double-double. Vines led the team in scoring with 15 as she pulled down 10 rebounds. Wilson would clock 14 points and 10 rebounds.

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