Bulldogs Boro’ Bound… Hampton’s full-court press leaves Harriman Devils feeling blue

Published 2:10 am Tuesday, March 8, 2022

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
HARRIMAN – The year was 1983 and now Hampton assistant coach Mike Matheson’s Hampton Bulldog teammates pulled off a road sectional win to gain a berth in the state championship where they would finish as state runner-up.
It has been 39 years since the Bulldogs had won a sectional on the road – that was until Monday night when Hampton fell behind 10-0 in the first four minutes of their sectional game with Harriman before outscoring the Blue Devils 55-31 from that point on to take a 55-41 victory to snag a berth in the 2022 BlueCross Basketball Championship.
Hampton will tip off the Class 1-A state tournament against West Carroll at 10 a.m. central, 11 a.m. eastern on Thursday, March 17 at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center.
The Bulldogs seemed out of kilter for the first four minutes of the contest which could have possibly been due to a very raucous Blue Devils student body that was all over Hampton’s every move early on.
Meanwhile, Harriman came out shooting at a hot pace while the ‘Dogs struggled to get the point-blank range shots to fall to allow the early lead.
However, once the lid was peeled back, that was all Hampton needed to get rolling as they closed the gap to 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Behind a very aggressive full-court press, Hampton turned up the heat on the Blue Devils in the second quarter which resulted in an 18-9 stanza to give the Bulldogs the lead at intermission, 26-21.
Cadon Buckles and Michael Harrison rattled the rim for eight points apiece in the half to help the ‘Dogs build their lead. Dalton Holtsclaw and Morgan Lyons were playing a contributing role as they scored four each while Isaiah McCoury added a deuce.
“Our kids just stepped up and started to play really hard,” said Hampton head coach Ned Smith. “Our defense was the key. We couldn’t guard them in a half-court set and finally got in the press and got going. Michael Harrison made some big shots and the kids just played great. I am just so proud of our kids – they stepped up and played great.”
Harriman big man Jordan McCullum paced the Blue Devils with seven points in the half while Carter Smith stroked a pair of treys for six points.
Hampton came out of the break and continued to put the ball in the hoop to extend their lead to 39-27 with eight minutes left in one team’s season.
Both offenses picked up in the fourth as Hampton managed to outshoot the Blue Devils 16-14 to seal the win and quite a once-loud Blue Devil fan base to one where you could hear a pin drop as they watched their team’s season come to an unexpected end.
Hampton was paced by a team-high 17 points by Buckles while Lyons dumped in 16 points. Harrison added 10 but it was his defense on McCullum that helped bring momentum back to the Bulldogs side in the early going.
“We knew we had to win, no matter what – whatever it took,” said Buckles after the contest. “It’s win or go home now. I think that we settled in after the first couple of minutes or so and played our game but I think the loud crowd had something to do with the first few minutes.”
Lyons also pulled down five rebounds to lead in that category while Conor Burleson reeled in four. Buckles and McCoury dished out four assists each. Lyons had four steals on the evening with Logan Whitehead chipping in with four.
“We got down 10-0 and we changed our defense around and went to work,” said Lyons. “We got in our comfort zone and started knocking down shots and sharing the ball with everybody and making the extra pass to find the open man. We have worked on our defense the past three days. As soon as that regional championship game was over, we came to the gym the next day and started watching film and went to work.”
McCullum led the Blue Devils with a game-high 18 points with two rim-shaking dunks but also at least four goal tending calls on Hampton shots.
“I wanted to make sure that we locked him (McCullum) down so we could start to get our offense going,” said Harrison. “We got our offense rolling to win the game. It feels great. We worked out butts off all week after we lost to North Greene.”
Xavier Hickman and Nick Pelfrey added seven points apiece for Harriman.
Hampton, 55-41
Hampton (55)
Michael Harrison 10, Isaiah McCoury 4, Cadon Buckles 17, Dalton Holtsclaw 4, Logan Whitehead 2, Morgan Lyons 16, Conor Burleson 2,
Harriman (41)
Xavier Hickman 7, Jordan McCullum 18, Matthew Scarbrough 1, Nick Pelfrey 7, Carter Smith 6, Camyan Campbell 2.
Hampton …….. 8 18 13 16 – 55
Harriman …….. 12 9 6 14 – 41

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