ROAN MOUNTAIN – The Cloudland basketball programs celebrated senior night in a big way on Monday night.
The Lady ‘Landers picked up a strong 54-40 victory over Providence Academy with a strong third quarter, while the ‘Landers built a first quarter double-digit lead and kept the Nights at bay to take a 64-45 victory.
In the varsity opener, Shian Strickland scored the game’s first three points, and senior Kendall Mull knocked down two treys to push CHS to an early 9-2 advantage. Senior Faith Russell and Strickland added shots to give Cloudland a double-digit lead, and a Mull three sent the Lady ‘Landers into the second quarter with an 18-8 advantage.
The Lady Knights answered the bell in the second quarter with a 12-3 run to pull within one point. Russell stepped behind the arc to snap the run as Cloudland took a 24-20 lead into the locker room at the half.
In the third quarter, the Lady ‘Landers took control by opening the period on a 14-3 run, including four points from DonRae Taylor. A Providence jumper ended the CHS run, but Russell and Strickland ended the frame with buckets. Cloudland maintained a 42-25 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Russell and Mull continued to spark Cloudland to a 20-point lead midway through the final period. Providence went on an 8-0 run to cut the gap, but Peyton Johnson and Strickland answered with baskets to secure the win for the Lady ‘Landers.
Mull and Russell scored 15 points apiece, while Strickland tallied nine points. Taylor tossed in eight points to the Cloudland cause.
In the boys’ game, the ‘Landers were on fire early as Preston Benfield scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points, while senior Jonah Wood added a basket as CHS took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. A quick 5-0 Providence run was answered by a runner from senior Zac Benfield and Chris Wagoner to send Cloudland into the second quarter with a 17-7 lead.
The Knights trimmed the lead to six points to start the second period before Wagoner and Jesse Potter drained shots to answer. Both teams traded points for the rest of the quarter as a Wagoner putback at the buzzer put CHS up 30-20 at the half.
Benfield opened the second half with two straight baskets that held Cloudland open the third quarter on a 10-3 run. Providence closed the gap back to nine points as CHS held a 42-33 lead entering the final quarter.
In the fourth, the Knights pulled within six points. However, Cloudland went on a 7-0 run to pull back out to a double-digit lead, and Colby Birchfield scored nine points in the frame as well as a key buckets from senior Tony Corley iced the win for the ‘Landers.
P. Benfield tallied 17 points to lead Cloudland, while Wagoner finished with 14 points. Z. Benfield scored 10 points. Birchfield ended the night with nine points.
Cloudland will open the postseason on Friday in the District 1-A Tournament. The Lady ‘Landers will square off against Unaka at 4 p.m., with the ‘Landers facing University High at 5:30 p.m., at Daniel Boone High School in Gray.