Williams picks up first win as Warriors coach

Published 2:26 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

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By Ron Marvel
Elizabethton Star
Happy Valley head coach Shane Williams knew changing his team’s culture and identity wouldn’t come in leaps and bounds but would happen in steps. On Thursday night, one of those steps took place in the confines of Bayless Gymnasium as he and his team won their first game together.
From the onset, a tone was set; it was going to be an aggressive physical game played between two brutes who would not back down. The atmosphere seemed more like two dogs fighting over a bone than a basketball game. The tenacious play of James Murray set the tone early to give the lead for the Warriors, but a couple of free throws by Highlander Eli Morgan would end the first period with the Warriors grasping tightly to a narrow two-point lead 13-11.
Coach Shane Williams turned up the dial on his defense as the Warrior pressure gave the Highlanders little breathing room and made finishing near the rim for Cloudland tough sledding. This pressure would also put several Highlanders in foul trouble early, a recurring theme that would, at times, limit both teams and their gameplay. Dylan McClellan for the Highlanders would have a couple of putbacks in the period, but the Warriors would close the half with a 10-point lead off the offensive play of Colby Chausse and a big-time three by Donovan Maxwell.
The second half saw the physical style of play turned up even more. Dakota Grindstaff would hit a couple of long-range threes to help extend the lead to 41-33; the turning point that would emotionally charge the crowd came off a couple of technicals and the Highlanders losing the inside presence of Dylan McClellan at the 5:05 mark of the fourth and then the quickness of Gage McKinney roughly a minute later as both players fouled out.  The Highlanders would attempt one more run off the shooting and quickness of Highlander Ryan Sexton, but the Warriors would close the game out by shooting 12 of 15 from the free throw line to close out the game at 69-51. This game would mark the highest offensive output by the Warriors and would be remembered for a total of 61 fouls between the two teams. A good chunk of both teams’ starters in the final minutes had fouled out. McClellan would lead the Highlanders with 12, Eli Morgan and Ryan Sexton would add 10 and 9, respectively. For the Warriors, James Murray led all scorers with 20 while Chausse added 16, going 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.
After the game, former Vol and Warriors Head Coach Shane Williams talked about the progress of his team, “we have some tough kids that will play really hard and can sustain playing hard; we got short in numbers with the fouls but I love the effort, it was a dogfight” he went on to talk about his team’s defensive pressure and how that changed the game, “we want to play that way…challenge every dribble, every pass rotate and play as a team I think they did that tonight”. The Warriors will play Chuckey Doak at Afton on Saturday, while the Highlands will host the Mountaineers from Mitchell County on Tuesday.
Girls Varsity- Cloudland 47 Happy Valley 29
Cloudland jumped on the Lady Warriors 12 -2 and never looked back. Ryan Turbyfill helped her team with a couple of threes in the first period to push the Highlanders early lead. Lady Warriors head coach Dana Hill wisely went to the press and trap game to slow the Highlanders down, but their experience and speed were too much. Ella Benfield came alive in the fourth period scoring 12 of her team-high 15 helping her team to the 18-point victory, while Sahara McKinney tossed in 13. For the Lady Warriors, Kadey Bailey scored 15 and Marcida Moore added 9. After the game Cloudland head coach talked about his team’s journey so far “this is a good start; we are getting better. We have to do that before we get into conference play; Sahara is our leader and handles that well; she and Ella provide the leadership; we lean on Ella’s post-play and her scoring ability.” Cloudland will host Mitchell County Tuesday night at 6 pm, while the Lady Warriors will hit the road against Chuckey Doak this Saturday.

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