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Wilson music to Lady ’Landers’ ears

Douglas Fritz • Jan 17, 2014 at 11:42 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — It was difficult to assess whether Courtney Wilson's basketball game was better than her singing.Either way, it was a win for Cloudland.Wilson helped sing the national anthem, and then gave proof through the night that Hampton couldn't stop her. She finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 45-33 victory Friday night at Sonny Smith Gymnasium.Cloudland improved to 3-2 in the Watauga Valley Conference and 19-3 overall. Hampton slipped to 2-3, 13-9.It was the third straight league win for the Lady Highlanders after opening with a pair of tough losses.“We got started in the hole in the conference,” said Cloudland head coach Matt Birchfield. “We've got to be ready to play every game from here on out.”Cloudland came out ready in this one, quickly building a first-quarter lead. The second quarter was a different story, and Hampton was just two points down early in the third quarter.That's when Wilson took control with seven unanswered points for the Lady 'Landers.“We knew they had a weakness inside,” said Wilson. “We missed some shots. I missed some shots. But (inside) was the place to go.”After Wilson's burst gave Cloudland a 28-19 lead, Hampton got no closer than seven points the rest of the way. It was just a good second half overall for the Lady Highlanders.“Our defense was the biggest difference in the second half,” said Birchfield. “Also we got the ball inside. The biggest thing was we got the ball where we wanted to get it.”Courtney Clarke also played a key role for Cloudland, totaling 10 points and finishing with five assists. Kendal Mull was also a big factor, chipping in with eight points and four steals.Hampton scored the first two points of the game, but got little else as the Lady Highlanders built an 11-4 edge after eight minutes. Cloudland stayed in control in the second quarter, but missed some opportunities to pull further away.When Hampton standout Alexis Bowers picked up her third foul with two minutes to go, it looked like a trouble spot for the Lady Bulldogs. Instead, Hampton outscored Cloudland 4-2 and trailed only 19-16 at the break.That put pressure on Cloudland to start the second half.“In this type of atmosphere, you have to come out good in the third quarter,” said Birchfield.Wilson said this game is a sign of more good things for Cloudland.“We are together as a team every game,” she said. “When we get closer, we play better.”Eventually fouling out, Bowers really never found a rhythm for the game. She finished with just three points, three rebounds and one steal. The Lady Bulldogs got nine points from Alexus Grubbs and eight from Monica Olvera.

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