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6th Annual Food City Thanksgiving Classic ‘Dogs chase Cougars in the opening contest of FCTC

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
BLUFF CITY – After having all of its previous contests canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, the Hampton Bulldogs finally got to take the court in the opening game of the 6th Annual Food City Thanksgiving Classic against Sullivan Central Monday evening.

It didn’t take long either for the Bulldogs to put the Cougars on the run as Hampton’s swarming defense lead to a couple of big runs that the Cougars couldn’t overcome as Hampton took the contest in relatively easy fashion, 73-51.

Head Coach Ned Smith wasn’t afraid to use his bench either as 12 of the 14 players that touched the court put points in the scoring column.

Hampton took the lead early and never let go as the ‘Dogs outscored Central 18-9 in the opening period and followed that up with a 19-14 second stanza to take a 37-23 advantage to the locker room.

Morgan Lyons, who just two weeks ago was in football in the playoffs, came out and looked like he had been in the gym for quite a while as the junior scored eight tough points in the opening 16 minutes of action to get the ‘Dogs off on the right paw.

Always-steady Garrett Vines hit two clutch treys for six. Smith received solid play from his two space-eating post players in Conor Burleson and Hayden Campbell who put in valuable minutes under the bucket recording five and four points respectively in the opening half.

Logan Whitehead and Conor Jones connected for four points apiece with Nate Wilson and Isaiah McCoury dropping three points each.

The Cougars came out of the locker room as the aggressor clawing into the Bulldog lead as Central was able to slice it down to single digits as Hampton appeared just a little gun-shy offensively in the quarter.

It didn’t take long for Smith’s pack to finally pull it back together in the latter part of the third quarter as the ‘Dogs made a run to take a 51-39 lead into the final eight minutes of action.

Hampton outscored the Cougars 22-12 to seal the victory.

Lyons led all ‘Dog scorers with 14 points in the contest. Wilson rode two long-range treys in the fourth quarter to finish in double figures with 11 points.

McCoury and Burleson added eight solid points each for Hampton while Jones and Vines finished with six points apiece.

Lyons also led the team in rebounding with seven for the contest while dishing out four assists. Burleson added six boards as well.

Ethan Lane led the Cougars with 14 points and was joined in double figures by Parker Leming with 12 points.

“We have a lot of kids and we haven’t gotten to scrimmage,” said Smith after the contest. “It was our first game. We have a lot of kids who pretty much are the same and we are just going to rotate and get them in the game and take a few games to see who can play what spot better.

“Morgan come out and looked good and probably should have shot three or more shots and we had some other kids that should have shot some shots and they passed them up but I thought our defensive effort was pretty good. We are going to have to get better at blocking out and doing the little fundamental things.”

Hampton is scheduled to play Wednesday afternoon against the Hilltoppers of Science Hill at 12:30 pm.