Shanghied on Roan Mountain… Lady ‘Landers topple top-ranked North Greene
BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
ROAN MOUNTAIN – Despite hitting on just three-of-14 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter of a tight contest, the Cloudland Lady Highlanders toppled North Greene on Thursday evening at Sonny Smith gymnasium in Watauga Valley Conference basketball.
“That may be a first in my coaching career,” Lady Highlanders head coach Matt Birchfield said. “You usually don’t miss free throws down the stretch like that and beat a really good team, but I thought we played really good team defense.
“Our shot selection was really good, running our offense and getting our sets and taking high-quality shots was a big benefit to us.”
Cloudland (12-4, 4-1 WVC) struggled mightily from the charity stripe all night hitting just six-of-21 (28.5 percent) but still managed to pull off a huge win.
Senior guard Gracie Freeman scored a game-high 21 points and clinched the game with two free throws with less than 30 seconds left in regulation.
“I felt confident and I wanted the ball in my hands,” Freeman said. “This was an incredible win. This is always one of the hardest games we play.
“Our best skill is our defense and even if we aren’t shooting the ball well we can still have a chance. None of their players scored double figures and we shot really good except free throws. I was stressing about that but when my time came I was ready.”
The Lady ‘Landers led 23-22 at the half and the third period ended in a flat-footed tie at 29-29.
Freeman opened the fourth period with a trey and Lady Huskies guard Breezy Savage hit a pair of free throws. Senior guard Heaven Caraway then hit a deuce and Freeman dropped in another trey – one of four she hit in this contest – to stake Cloudland to a 37-31 advantage with 3:31 remaining.
After a free throw from North Greene (16-5, 5-1) senior post Mandy Benfield hit a deuce from the baseline for a 39-32 Landers lead. Post Brooklyn Anderson was held to nine points to lead North Greene with guard Shelby Davenport adding seven.
For Cloudland, Benfield scored eight while Caraway added five.
North Greene 87
Forward Charles Schultz scored a game-high 25 points and had 11 rebounds as the Huskies won going away. Guard Caden Foulks added 19 points and North Greene (23-3, 6-0 WVC) knocked down 10 triples with Carson Whaley hitting three of those.
Cloudland (4-9, 1-5) guard Dylan Shell scored a team-high 16 points and was fearless driving the lane against the much larger North Greene post players.
Victor Hicks scored eight as did post Elijah Blair, but the ‘Landers dug a deep early hole for themselves with a 26-13 first-period deficit.
NG led 47-28 at the break and the Huskies scored 30 points in the third period to open a 34 point lead. Early in the fourth period, the Huskies pushed the lead to 36 forcing a running clock over the last seven minutes of play.
North Greene 87-49
North Greene (87)
Britton 2, Foulks 19, Campbell 5, Loftis 8, Schultz 25, Cooter 3, English 3, Whaley 7, Freshour 7, Cooper 2, Breeden 2.
Hicks 8, Benfield 3, Gilbert 4, Blair 8, Shell 16, Birchfield 3, Street 2, Sluder 5.
North Greene 26 21 30 10 – 87
Cloudland 13 15 15 6 – 49
3-point goals: NG 10 (Whaley 3, Foulks 2, Schultz 2, Cooter, Freshour, English), C 5 (Hicks 2, Benfield, Birchfield, Sluder).
North Greene (37)
Britton 3, Savage 4, Davenport 7, Bernard 6, Anderson 9, English 6, Buchanan 2.
Caraway 5, M. Benfield 8, J. Birchfield 2, Freeman 21, Fields 4, McKinney 2, E. Benfield 1.
North Greene 11 11 7 8 – 37
Cloudland 11 12 6 14 – 43
3-point goals: NG 4 (English 2, Bernard, Britton), C 4 (Freeman 4).