U-H overcomes Cloudland in boy’s basketball

Published 11:18 pm Saturday, January 15, 2022

ROAN MOUNTAIN – Going into the boy’s varsity game at Cloudland hosting University High, one couldn’t help but wonder if the Highlander boys were going to give the Bucs the same thumping as the ‘Lander girls did in the prior game.
This wouldn’t be the case as University High came to play and showed it early on with a crippling defense and an offense that rarely missed.
It would end up being a tough night for Cloudland as University High took a page out of the Lady ‘Landers playbook and scored early and often.
The Bucs would strike first as AJ Murphy exploded from the perimeter driving hard inside for an easy bucket.  This would be a sign of things to come for the Highlanders as the Bucs speed would prove to be too much for Cloudland.
The Highlanders struggled to get good ball movement and get any kind of penetration inside.  This along with sloppy ball-handling led to an early lead by the Bucs of 9-2 with 4:25 left to go in the first period.
It seemed as if Cloudland was going to cut into the Bucs lead early on with Caleb Sluder taking a rebound from a missed inside opportunity by Dylan McClellan and bringing the Highlanders to within five.
This was short-lived as the Bucs put pressure on the Highlanders defensively and forced several turnovers.  This along with precision shooting by University High tacked on a few more before the end of first-period play.
The one bright spot for Cloudland under the basket was Gage McKinney as he had a strong play at the end of the first period.  The Bucs would foul, but McKinney could only muster 1-of-2 at the line, resulting in the Bucs going up 14-6 at the end of the first period.
Things would not improve for Cloudland at the start of the second period as their first possession led to the ball being thrown out of bounds.
Cloudland did manage to find McKinney under the basket again, but it was a rarity and not the norm.  Midway through the second period, it looked as if Cloudland was lighting a fire underneath their defense as they shut down a Murphy drive for the Bucs.
This led to a fight for the rebound and a bit of volleyball with the ball going back and forth between teams, but the ball would end up back in the hands of the lethal Murphy who was fouled.
He would go two for two at the line putting the Bucs up 19-11. This sort of luck continued for the Bucs throughout the night.  Good luck along with good play would prove to be too much for Cloudland going into the half as the Bucs had a commanding lead.
The third period saw some adjustments by Cloudland, especially on defense as the Highlanders resorted to a full-court press.  This was effective for the first minute or so of the third period, but Cloudland simply couldn’t sustain the pressure and it was back to business for the Bucs.
The Highlanders would pull within eight points early in the third, but once again Murphy doused the Highlanders’ defensive fire with precision moves and on-point shooting.
Murphy was merely the catalyst that would spurn on a crushing Bucs offense led by John Carter who finished the night with 26 points.
After the short-lived early third period charge by Cloudland, the Bucs would find their rhythm again with a speedy offense and high-pressure defense.
The fourth period was much like the early girls’ game with the Bucs putting it on cruise control and simply toying with the Highlanders.
University High would finish off Cloudland with a final score of 58-31.
University High, 58-31
University High (58)
Jacob Pealer 5, AJ Murphy 10, John Carter 26, Pete Boynewics 5, Joseph Armstrong 8, Andrew Cole 3.
Cloudland (31)
Caden Clarke 4, Caleb Sluder 7, Dylan Shell 10, Gage McKinney 8, Kingston Cole 2, Coy Laney 1.
University High…….14  9  22  12  – 58
Cloudland ………….. 6   7  12   6   – 31

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