Lady ‘Landers deliver first loss to Lady Bulldogs

Published 7:13 pm Sunday, January 22, 2023

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Dogs second half surge topples Highlanders
On Friday night at Sonny Smith gymnasium, a win streak came to an end as the Cloudland Lady Highlanders defeated Hampton 52-48 to end the Lady Bulldogs unbeaten streak at 18 in Watauga Valley Conference girl’s basketball action.
Senior post Ella Benfield scored a game-high 23 points – including ten third-quarter points – to help deliver the upset.
“It’s very exciting, I love it,” Benfield said. “We practiced hard for this game all week. I am a leader for this team so I just wanted us to pick up the defense in the post especially.”
Hampton (18-1, 3-1 conference) took a 15-12 first-period lead with guard Piper Helle scoring nine first-quarter points. The Lady Bulldogs led 32-20 at the half and looked like they would blow the game open in the second half.
Benfield had other ideas as she took over the game after point guard Sahara McKinney left with a knee injury scoring ten third-quarter points as the ‘Landers pulled even at 38-38. A bucket by Faye Carrico at the end of the period gave the ‘Dogs a 40-38 advantage going into the final stanza.
“We talked at halftime when our point guard went down,” Lady Highlanders head coach Matt Birchfield said. “She is our leader and we then had to go inside and get some buckets there. Benfield and (Isabella) Christman had some big ones and defensively, it was several kids playing good defense because Hampton shoots the ball well.”
Cloudland (12-4, 4-0 conference) opened the fourth period with a pair of deuces from Benfield and Ryan Turbyfill, which was answered by Carrico for a 42-42 contest. Makenzie Street scored back-to-back baskets for Cloudland for a 46-42 ‘Landers lead.
Later in the period, Macy Henry hit a trey at the 4:05 mark of regulation to bring Hampton to within 48-46 and a free throw from Linsey Jenkins made it 48-47. Benfield then hit a bucket in the paint and Madison McClain scored inside to make it a 50-49 contest.
Cloudland got one free throw apiece from Benfield and Turbyfill and McClain saw her three-point effort at the buzzer fall short. Helle led Hampton with 14 points, while Henry added 11. McKinney had 12 points for Cloudland with Turbyfill adding seven.
Hampton 77
Cloudland 48
As hard as Cloudland tried to keep pace with the Hampton scoring machine, the harder they tried, the further behind they fell. Every player that saw court time for the Bulldogs (16-5, 4-0 conference) scored at least one point and the Highlanders simply weren’t able to keep up.
“Any time you win on the road, it’s a good win, especially in conference,” Bulldogs head coach Ned Smith said. “We played better in the third quarter and we kept our composure in a physical game. Brody Hicks and Geno Carrico played well off the bench. We stepped up and played hard.”
The ‘Dogs took a 32-20 halftime advantage and extended to a 55-32 lead going into the final period. Carrico scored a game-high 15 points with Michael Anspaugh adding 13 for the Bulldogs, while Eli Morgan was tops for the ‘Landers with 13 points.
Ryan Sexton scored 12 and Gage McKinney added 11 points off the bench for Cloudland (2-12, 1-3 conference).
Cloudland 52-49
Hampton (49)
Helle 14, McClain 8, Henry 11, Jenkins 5, Berry 2, Carrico 4, Nickles 5.
Cloudland (52)
Benfield 23, McKinney 12, Turbyfill 7, Christman 6, Street 4.
Hampton 15 17 8 9 – 49
Cloudland 12 8 18 14 – 52
Three-point goals: H 1 (Henry), C 2 (McKinney 2)
Hampton 77-48
Hampton (77)
Lyons 4, Trivett 5, Anspaugh 13, Buckles 11, Campbell 10, McElyea 2, Hicks 8, Point 2, Fagen 2
Carrico 15, Dil. Nave 2, Robinson 1, Dal. Nave 2.
Cloudland (48)
Clarke 2, Morgan 13, Sexton 12, Caraway 6, Holtsclaw 2, Street 2, McKinney 11.
Hampton 19 13 23 22 – 77
Cloudland 15 6 11 16 – 48
Three-point goals: H 5 (Anspaugh 3, Buckles 1, Trivett 1), C 8 (Morgan 3, Sexton 2, McKinney 2,
Caraway 1).

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