Cloudland, Unaka Middle square off in basketball action

Published 11:45 am Friday, January 14, 2022

BY BRANDON HYDE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
It was a tale of two sides Thursday night as the Unaka girls struggled against Cloudland, while the Unaka boys came up big as 8th grade contests took place at Unaka Elementary in Stoney Creek.
In the early girls’ game, Unaka struggled in the first period as Cloudland took a quick ten-point lead as Unaka had a bad habit of turning the ball over.
Cloudland’s Abby  scored on a baseline jumper and abruptly scored again after a Cloudland steal found it’s way back into her hands.  It was turnover after turnover for Unaka in a dismal first period.
The Jr. Lady Rangers finally got on the board after Jayela got a rebound and took it all the way, but was fouled.  This led to a one of two being hit from the line to finally give the Lady Rangers a point with 2:16 to go in the second period.
After yet another Cloudland steal, Unaka’s coach decided to take a much needed time out to try and regroup with the Lady Rangers in a 20-point hole.
It must have worked as Unaka’s Emma came out and fired a long two-pointer giving the home crowd something to celebrate.  Emma then turned right around and stole the ball and put up another point after being foul.
At this point, Unaka began to put more defensive pressure on Cloudland, but it wasn’t enough at the moment as Cloudland’s Abby scored again.
Just before halftime, Emma  was left alone under the basket on an inbound making it a 23-8 game in favor of the visitors from Roan Mountain.
Unfortunately, for Unaka, the third period looked much like the first period with plenty of turnovers and less of a pressure defense that showed up late in the second period.
Abby was her usual self making her presence known under the hoop and giving Unaka a hard time.
With 2:53 to go in the third period, Savannah took a rebound and sailed to the other end of the court to Eowyn who was immediately fouled.
This made the score 29-10 late in the third period.  Just before the end of play in the third period, Cloudland’s Regan single- handedly muscled the ball away from Unaka and drove the ball down for a layup making it 33-10.
Things did not improve for Unaka in the fourth period as Cloudland continued their excellent ball movement and overbearing inside play.
Abby for Cloudland capitalized on this once again as she was a scoring machine in the paint.  The writing was on the wall as Cloudland made significant substitutions with the game well in hand.
The one bright spot for Unaka in the fourth period was a long three-pointer by Jayela  giving the crowd a little something to cheer for.
However it was just a small chink in Cloudland’s armor as they continued to dominate and found themselves with a 45-17 victory when it was all said and done.
Abby led Cloudland with sixteen points, followed by Eowyn with 14 points and Regan’s six. Unaka’s Emma had seven along with Autumn’s six and Jaela’s four.
It was a completely different story in the boys game as things seemed to flip-flop with Unaka being the dominant team and Cloudland struggling this time around.
Both teams seemed fired up early on, but neither team could get a basket to sink as there were several shots by both squads that went in and then out of the basket.
Sully for Unaka got the party started with an early steal, but again couldn’t get the basket to sink.  One could almost tell things were eventually going to go Unaka’s way as they just seemed to have more opportunities offensively.
It wasn’t until midway through the first period that Unaka found themselves on the board with a baseline jumper from Grayson.
This was only the beginning for Unaka, but it wouldn’t come until the second period as Cloudland’s Bryson slid across the key with a nice hook shot to temporarily put Cloudland up by 3-2 with 2:38 to go in the first period.
The tag line for the first period was “in and out” for both teams as neither one could get the ball to drop.
However things started to heat up just a tad as Unaka’s Sully made a blistering bounce pass to Austin under the hoop to put Unaka up 6-3.
After Sully for Unaka sank a long three, one started to get a sense that Unaka was getting revved up going into the second period.
Grayson for Unaka started to pour it on defensively with near back-to-back steals as Jacob really started to make his presence known under the basket.
At this point it was 11-3 with 40 seconds to go in the first period.  Unaka’s luck with the ball dropping started to change later in the first period as Jacob simply muscled the ball to the hoop inside every chance he got with one right at the buzzer to end the first period.  He would become even more of a force as the game progressed.
The second period saw Unaka up their ante with plenty of early steals and fast breaks, as Julian got a hold of a Cloudland lose ball and zipped down court.
After a subsequent foul, Julian went to the line, but couldn’t capitalize.  It seemed as if Cloudland was going to get in on the fun with a jumper by Tristen but it was short lived as Unaka’s Jacob continued his strong play underneath with an immediate two-point answer.
Unaka’s speed and power inside began to hit full stride with a score of 17-7 with 2:54 left before the half.
Another rebound and fast break by Sully quickly made it 19-7.  Unaka really began to tighten the screws with excellent rebounding and all-out power basketball underneath from Jacob.
An interesting turn of events led to a technical foul for Cloudland to add insult to injury.  A missed out of bounds call by one of the referees prompted an emotional response from one of the coaches.
This led the referee  slapping  Cloudland with the technical foul only to add to their woes going into half time.
The third period saw Unaka continue to dominate with powerful inside play from Jacob and long balls falling for Sully on the perimeter.
Late into the third period and into fourth saw rebound after rebound for Unaka with Austin firing missiles to the opposite end to unguarded teammates.
Cloudland was caught napping several times in this regard giving Unaka an insurmountable lead.  This prompted Unaka to make several substitutions as the game was all but over at this point.
Unaka’s Sully ended the night with seventeen points, followed by Jacob fourteen and Austin ten.
Cloudland’s scoring trio was led by Devin with seven points, Bryson with four and Tristen with seven.
Girls
Cloudland, 45-17
Cloudland (45)
Abby C. 15, Eowyn 11, Regan B. 6, Chelsie W. 5, Emily F. 2, Savannah 2, Regan T. 2, Willow 2.
Unaka (17)
Emma D. 7, Autumn H. 6, Jayela M. 4.
Cloudland………14    9  12  10 – 45
Unaka …………..  0    8    4     5 – 17
Boys
Unaka, 55-29
Unaka (55)
Sully P. 17, Cooper S. 2, Grayson H. 4, Brycen E. 2, Korbin R. 2, Brayden H. 2, Chris G. 2, Austin L. 10, Jacob W. 14.
Cloudland
Devin B. 7, Tristen L. 7, Tanner H. 4, Cass T. 4, Landon B. 2, Uriah J 1, Bryson B 4.
Unaka …………. 13  15  17  10 – 55
Cloudland ……… 5     2    4   18 – 29
** Editor’s Note: the game books in both games did not have a last name listed for players for either team.