Cloudland advances to District 1A Championship; Lady Rangers defeated by North Greene

Published 4:24 pm Saturday, February 17, 2024

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On Friday night, the TSSAA held its District 1A playoff at Bayless Gymnasium on the campus of Happy Valley High School. The Cloudland Lady Highlanders advanced to the championship on Monday with a 63-18 victory over University School, while North Greene sent Unaka to the consolation round with a 61-35 win to advance to play Cloudland in the championship.

Cloudland (23-1) secured an easy win, holding the offensively challenged Lady Buccaneers to single-digit scoring in each quarter.

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“We came out a little flat, but we got a good lead, got some steals and some buckets in transition, and it’s the second season right now,” said Lady Highlanders head coach Matt Birchfield. “You have got to go play because any loss can send you home. Ryan Turbyfill had a good game. She hit some big shots and had some big threes.”

Before the game, the Highlanders celebrated senior post Izabella Christman’s 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, and fellow senior Saharra McKinney, who scored 500 career points with 500 rebounds and 350 steals.

“Ever since I have been in junior high, Ryan and Saharra have been the key to it all,” Christman said. “They got me the ball whenever I would get a seal in the post. Rebounding is something I have always been good at and getting put back shots. It hurt last year to miss the playoffs with the knee injury. It was a big setback and it hurt me mentally, but the knee is a lot better now.”

Cloudland took a 33-7 halftime advantage and led 46-12 going into the fourth quarter and were never threatened. Turbyfill led all scorers with 19 points, with Makinna Shell adding 15 and Christman scoring 11 for the Highlanders. Vania Ortiz’s nine points were the high score for the Lady Bucs.

In the second game, North Greene defeated Unaka 61-35. The Lady Rangers (6-22) stayed close through the first quarter, trailing just 12-8, but the Lady Huskies (23-8) opened a huge halftime advantage with a 17-1 second quarter explosion. Unaka played much better in the second half, being outscored 32-26, but they had dug too deep a hole to climb out.

Lauren Lund connected on four threes and was the high scorer for the Rangers with 14 points, with Haley Taylor adding nine points. For North Greene, Ella Head’s 17 points led the way, with Lauren Blevins adding 16 points off the bench.

Unaka will take on University School for third place and will have to go on the road in the Regional tournament, while Cloudland and North Greene face off for the District 1A title.

District 1A Semifinal

Bayless Gymnasium

Cloudland 63-18

University School (18)

Joiner 3, V. Ortiz 9, L. Ortiz 2, Lewis 2, Willard 2.

Cloudland (63)

Street 6, Shell 15, McKinney 2, Turbyfill 19, Christman 11, E. McCurry 3, Forbes 1, L. Blair 2, S. McCurry 2, Clawson 2.

University 2 5 5 6 – 18

Cloudland 12 21 13 17 – 63

3-point goals: U 1 (V. Ortiz), C 4 (Turbyfill 3, E. McCurry 1)

District 1A Semifinal

Bayless Gymnasium

North Greene 61-35

Unaka (35)

Lund 14, E. Taylor 2, H. Taylor 9, Harrell 3, Hague 7.

North Greene (61)

Buchanan 7, Harmon 7, Head 17, Bailey 9, Miller 3, Blevins 16, Kurce 4.

Unaka 8 1 12 14 – 35

North Greene 12 17 14 18 – 61

3-point goals: U 6 (Lund 4, H. Taylor 1, Harrell 1), N 5 (Head 3, Buchanan 1, Harmon 1)