The Happy Valley basketball programs did something on Monday night that is hard to do – escape Roan Mountain with a pair of wins.
Happy Valley recorded a pair of wins on Monday night inside Sonny Smith Gymnasium over Cloudland. In the girls game, the Lady Warriors picked up a 50-44 win, while the Warriors also took a 79-61 win.
Happy Valley 50, Cloudland 44 (girls)
In the end,a second quarter stretch proved to be the difference.
Happy Valley used a strong defensive effort in the second quarter to gain separation and then held off the homestanding ‘Landers to take a 50-44 victory.
After Cloudland jumped out to a 5-0 lead with buckets from Kendall Mull and Donrae Taylor, Happy Valley used six points from Emily Whitaker during a 11-4 run to take the lead. However, Mull tied the game with a jumper at 11-11 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Warriors defensive pressure caused issues for Cloudland in the second stanza as Happy Valley limited Cloudland to just two field goals in the first six minutes of the quarter. Jenna Eaton, Annie Woods and Whitaker to power ahead to a 25-16 advantage. The Lady ‘Landers ended the half on a 6-1 run to pull within four at the half.
Eaton had a half-high eight points for Happy Valley, while Peyton Johnson, Mull and Taylor had six points apiece for the Lady ‘Landers.
In the third quarter, the Lady Warriors’ Kalee Johnson started to heat up as she scored the first six Happy Valley points as the visitors extended the lead to seven points, Taylor, however, answered for Cloudland with a jumper and 3-pointer as Cloudland pulled back within three points heading to the fourth.
The final quarter saw Mull hit a runner to close the gap to one point to open the period. However, Charli Bare and Johnson took over as they combined to score the next six points to extend the lead. From there, the Lady Warriors kept Cloudland at bay to secure the win.
K. Johnson finished with a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds for Happy Valley, while Eaton had 10 points and four assists. Mull paced Cloudland with 10 points, and P. Johnson had nine points in the game.
Happy Valley 79, Cloudland 61 (boys)
The Warriors pulled out to a 10-point lead in the second quarter and never looked back in the final game of the night.
Cloudland’s Preston Benfield and Colby Birchfield recorded shots that helped the ‘Landers open the game on a 9-1 run. However, the Warriors answered with Austin Hicks and Brandon Young 3-pointers that started a 16-1 run that gave Happy Valley a 16-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After Corey Matherly drained a 3-pointer to open the second quarter, Cloudland’s Austin Whitehead capitalized on a pair of free throws and Zac Benfield added a three to tie the game at 19-19 with just over four minutes left in the half. However, the Warriors went on a 15-4 run to take a 34-24 lead into the half.
The Highlanders pulled within eight points as P. Benfield scored four points of a 7-0 run. However, Chris Young knocked down a jumper to end the Cloudland run as the Warriors took a 51-39 advantage into the fourth. In the final stanza, the Warriors kept the ‘Landers at bay to capture the win.
Hicks had a game-high 19 points, while Josh Hammond tallied 16 points to lead the Warriors. Cloudland was paced by Z. Benfield’s 14 points and Whitehead’s 13 points.
”Any win is a good win. We are a pretty good team, but we have just had trouble playing 32 minutes. We had trouble doing that tonight, and we had opportunities to put them away early in the second half and just did some bad things at time. In the end, we made some plays when we had to. We got in some foul trouble and I thought our bench did a great job giving us a lift in the second quarter. We are happy with the win. Anytime, you come to Cloudland and get a win it’s a good thing. They have a good team and Coach Harrison has done a good job. We are just happy to get out of here with a win.”
-Happy Valley Boys’ Head Coach Chuck Babb
“We didn’t do a real good job of hustling and executing like we are capable of tonight. We knew coming up here it was going to be a tough battle because Cloudland is always good at home. We did what we needed to do to get the win. Kalee got more aggressive in playing her game in the second half.
-Happy Valley Girls’ Head Coach Larry Abel
“Defensively, we played bad all night, and with the style we play if you don’t have five people who can play as hard as they can play you are not going to be very successful. Tonight, defensively we didnt do a good job. It was very disappointing, but we will figure out what we have to work on and start working on it. We have to go back to the basics and fundamentals, and the last two games we haven’t done that.
-Cloudland Boys’ Head Coach Gary Harrison
“I thought we played a half quarter there that really hurt us. We turned the ball over and gave up some second shots to them. That was the difference in the game because other then that it was an even game down to the wire. Our kids played hard and I thought we had a lot of effort tonight.
-Cloudland Girls Head Coach Matt Birchfield
Photos courtesy of Suzanne Galyon