Hampton takes 1-A boys crown

Jeff Birchfield • Feb 18, 2014 at 9:48 PM

Hampton picked up in the postseason where it left off in the regular season.

After going undefeated through the Watauga Valley Conference, the Bulldogs capped off a dominant run in the District 1-A boys basketball tournament with a 70-55 win over South Greene Tuesday night at Daniel Boone High School.

Taking an early 6-0 lead, the Bulldogs led the rest of the way.

“I thought our kids played well even when they made big runs at us,” Hampton coach Ned Smith said after his team improved to 25-5. “We buckled down and played defense. South Greene is a really athletic bunch. They shoot the ball real well from the outside and get to the hole.

“I thought our kids made enough big plays, had a couple of big runs and got the job done. District championships are great and I’m proud of our kids for winning it.”

Tournament MVP Stanley Valentine certainly got the job done for the Bulldogs with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.

When the Rebels threatened to cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, Valentine answered with an old-fashioned 3-point play to give the Bulldogs some breathing room.

“Like Coach Smith always says, ‘Basketball is a game of runs,’” Valentine said. “They are a great team, as tough as we’ve played. We knew we just had to get back to what we do best, attacking the basket.”

Coby Jones kicked off a strong start for the Bulldogs by scoring the game’s first four points. Jones finished with 16 points and five assists. Tristan Robinson had an all-around performance of 16 points, six rebounds and four steals, while Cody McClain had 10 points and six assists.

Jones noted it’s not unusual for the Bulldogs to have so many different ways of beating teams.

“We just spread the ball around,” Jones said. “It doesn’t have to be one player that scores. When one’s guarded, the next one makes the shot and we just keep moving the ball around.”

Daniel Lowery had 17 points for the Rebels (13-13), who also had a 15-point effort from Nick Fillers.

Both teams as well as Unaka and North Greene will now move to the regional quarterfinals. Valentine likes the Bulldogs’ chances with so many players who can score and all of them focused on one goal.

“We can go eight or nine players deep,” Valentine said. “Anybody on this team is capable of having a 30-point game when it’s their night. What I like about this team, if one of us isn’t hitting, we know how to share the ball with each other. All we want to do is win.”

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