Hampton sailed by the Junior Bucs of University High 75-69 in the boys’ consolation. The Bulldogs and Junior Bucs have to wait to see where their Region 1-A quarterfinal gamed will be Saturday. Hampton travels to the loser between Cosby and Greenback. University High goes to the winner of that District 2-A Championship that will be played Tuesday.
“It’s big for us to get back in the rhythm of winning,” Hampton head coach Ned Smith said. “This is a good confidence builder for us.”
The girls’ consolation game saw a trend reversed as Cloudland overtook Hampton 56-53. Cloudland will play at Greenback Friday in the regional while Hampton travels to Cosby. The Lady Highlanders won the consolation game for a second straight season. Cloudland also snapped a nine-game skid against the Lady Bulldogs.
In the boys’ game, the Bulldogs built a second-quarter lead that helped secure third place. A balanced attack helped Hampton overtake a 18-17 deficit into a 36-30 lead. Dru Owens scored 10 of his 25 points in the opening half. Owens helped keep the Bulldogs in front with seven points in the final quarter.
“I thought the kids really played hard on defense and played solid,” Smith said. “We rebounded well and held them to just one shot. University High is a good team. They’re quick and can shoot it.”
Hampton had three more double-digit scorers with Jordan Bentley’s 14. Hunter Davenport worked for 11 points while Jayden Livingston added 10 .
Kaleb Meredith helped University High to a first-quarter advantage with seven points and added 20 more to pace the Junior Bucs. Marshall Fleenor lit up the nets in the third quarter with 12 points en route to 23 for the game. He knocked down four 3-pointers.
Hampton improved to 18-12 while University High went to 17-13. The Bulldogs won the two Watauga Valley Conference games this season against the Junior Bucs by 10 and six points. University High did beat Hampton 96-89 at the Virginia High School tournament in December.
The Cloudland girls took the lead with 3:21 left when Kenzi Birchfield made the score 51-50 with a basket. Stacia Wilson pushed the margin out to three points a minute later. Leanne Guinn sank two free throws for Hampton with 43.6 on the clock.
Six seconds later Shyanne Tuelle fouled out with her 16 points for Hampton. Trinity Vines hit a free throw to build the margin back to 55-53. Cloudland later sent Megan Lunsford to the line with 11.1 left where she hit the first free throw keep Hampton alive. The Lady Bulldogs’ Kinzey Hill launched a 3-pointer with four seconds left, but did not connect.
Vines paced all scorers with 18 points while Lunsford chipped in 10 more. Hampton got another 16 points from Stephanie Campbell.
“Our kids played so hard,” Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford said. “We’re young. I’m very proud of them. We’ve been right there and I kept telling the girls to just keep working and we’re going to get there.”
The two longtime county rivals continued their close-game trend. Hampton had won both games in the regular season by just three and four points. Entering the fourth quarter the teams were knotted at 42. The contest had 20 lead changes and 11 ties in all.
The Lady Highlanders improved to 21-11 on the season and own a 13-3 mark this season when scoring at least 50 points. Hampton goes to the Region 1-A quarterfinal at 12-18.