The Cloudland boys’ basketball pushed the District 1-A leader University High to the brink on Friday.
The ‘Landers saw their upset bid fall just short in a heartbreaking 65-63 loss to the Bucs inside Brooks Gym. The Cloudland girls’ basketball team slowly pulled away for a 54-30 win over the Lady Bucs.
For the ‘Landers, they had to battle from an early deficit.
The Bucs came out firing on all cylinders to race out to a double-digit lead. Cloudland, however, answered and closed the gap to to get back within striking distance going to the second quarter. Dillon Johnson hit a pair of 3-pointers to help the rally continue, and Robert Leeper hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to give CHS a slim lead. UH hit a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining to take a 29-28 lead at the half.
The second half continued to be a back-and-forth battle.
Cloudland continued to chip away at the UH lead as the Bucs pushed the lead to eight points after three complete quarters. The ‘Landers didn’t go away quietly as they clawed back within a single possession late in the game. After UH took a two-point lead, Cloudland was called for an offensive foul call with 3.8 seconds left that kept the game-tying shot from being attempted.
Josh Blair had 16 points to power CHS. Leeper finished with 13 points, while Hunter Shell scored 10 points. Conner Birchfield and Johnson had nine points each.
In the girls’ game, Cloudland jumped out early as Gracie Freeman hit a pair of 3-pointers and Trinity Vines added four points to power CHS to a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Vines and company continued to control the game in the second quarter as Cloudland held a 28-14 lead at the half.
University High trimmed the lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but Mandy Benfield tallied seven third-quarter points to help stop the UH run and help the ‘Landers extend to their lead. From there, it was all Cloudland.
Vines and Benfield led the way with 13 points apiece, while Freeman tallied 11 points. Kenzie Birchfield scored seven points in the win, while Megan Lunsford added five points.
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