Cloudland splits at Unicoi

Published 8:28 am Tuesday, February 12, 2019

ERWIN – An evening for final tuneups saw one Cloudland basketball team win while the other took a loss on Saturday.

The Lady Highlanders withstood a late rally for a 45-44 win at Unicoi County while the Blue Devils handed Cloudland a 48-37 setback.

“We were stagnant tonight,” Cloudland boys’ basketball head coach Gary Harrison said. “We’ve had several kids sick and that showed. We missed a few parts of the game plan. I felt like in the first half we were close to doing it.”

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That first half saw Cloudland open up a 23-21 lead at the break. Bentley Gilbert knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter to help build the advantage.

“We were one step away from gaining momentum. In the second half Unicoi County played harder than we did, credit to them,” Harrison added.

Unicoi County’s duo of Brock Thompson and Brett Lingerfelt both scored nine points each in the second half. Thompson led the Blue Devils with 18 while Lingerfelt had 15.

The Highlanders were paced by Robert Leeper with 10 points as nine different players scored. Hunter Shell knocked down two 3-pointers as well.

Cloudland’s next contest is the opening round of the District 1-A Tournament on Friday. The Highlanders will face off against Unaka. The Highlanders won by three points at Unaka in the last meeting while Unaka won by five in Roan Mountain. The last time the two met in the District Tournament was in 2016 where the Highlanders won 77-52. Cloudland ended the regular season at 10-18.

Cloudland 45, Unicoi County 44 (Girls)

The Lady Highlanders hung on in the final seconds. Cloudland led 44-42 before Gracie Freeman went to the free throw line with 42.9 seconds left. She hit one of the two attempts to put the Lady Highlanders up by three.

After Unicoi County’s Caroline Podvin missed a 3-pointer on the other end, Cloudland was unable to inbound the ball resulting in a five-second violation. Unicoi County missed another  3-pointer only to see Chloe Powers put the rebound in with under 15 seconds left. A foul six seconds later sent the Lady Highlanders’ Megan Lunsford to the line where she missed both attempts. Unicoi County was able to get the ball inside the paint on the other end but missed three shots as time expired.

“I thought we started off really well,” Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford said. “I think it was a good opportunity to come over here and play a good team. I thought our defense was really good in the first half then we got lazy a little bit in the second half. We had some players sick so I don’t know if that’s it, but we’ve either got to get in better shape or play a little bit harder.”

Cloudland opened up a 13-4 lead after a quarter thanks to Stacia Wilson scoring seven of her 14 points in that frame. The Lady Highlanders maintained an advantage through three quarters with a score of 38-25 before Unicoi County rallied in the fourth.

Trinity Vines provided a consistent scoring threat. She finished with 16 points and scored in each quarter.

Cloudland improved to 21-6 overall before the District 1-A Tournament. The Lady Highlanders are in Saturday’s semifinals and will play the winner between Unaka and Sullivan North. Cloudland won all four meetings against those teams in the conference season.

Unicoi County was paced by Caroline Podvin with 11 points and 10 more from Powers.