BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
With the No. 1 seed for the upcoming District 1-A Basketball Tournament already locked up, and with the regular season Watauga Valley Conference championship already in hand, North Greene's Lady Huskies had one more conference task at hand Tuesday night at Jerome Woolsey Gymnasium.
The Huskies had not lost a game since Jan. 10 when they dropped a decision to the Hampton Lady Bulldogs in a trip to Carter County.
They gained some revenge Tuesday night, earning their ninth straight season victory, and 20th overall, in capturing a 40-33 win over Hampton to close out their regular season league season with a 9-1 worksheet.
The Hampton boys, who own the regular season conference championship and are ranked as the No. 4 team in the state in Class A, flexed their muscles by taking an easy 64-33 win in the nightcap of the doubleheader.
The Huskies have one season game left, a Friday night home date with cross-county rival West Greene.
Coach James Buchanan knows that the District 1-A Tournament championship will be tough to win, but his Huskies will go into the event, which starts Feb. 14 at Daniel Boone High School, with plenty of momentum.
"We didn't play very well tonight," the coach said after the win over Hampton. "You tell me that Mendy McNeese would score only five points and we would win and I'd say I don't think so. We did some good things, but we've got plenty to work on before the tournament starts."
There is something to be said for winning ugly, and that's what the Huskies did on this night. Hampton's shooting was ice cold all night (11-of-39 for the game), and they manged only three points in each the second and third quarters.
Hampton led 14-11 at the first rest stop, but the Huskies jumped into the halftime lead at 20-17 as the Bulldogs made only 1-of-10 shots in the second quarters.
"We have a tough time with Hampton," Buchanan said. "Always do. It's just been like that over the years. The games are always close."
Despite Hampton's poor shooting, the Huskies weren't setting the woods afire either, and halfway through the third quarter the score was tied at 20-20. That's when the Huskies finally got some separation, and it came through the long ball.
Sophomore post Lauren Baxter hit two 3-pointers, and junior Macy McNeese canned another one before sophomore Katelyn Weems closed out the quarter with a dagger, another 3-pointer that beat the buzzer and left the home team with a 32-20 advantage.
Sophomore Taylor Payne then got back-to-back buckets to start the final quarter and closed out a 16-0 NG run that sewed up the outcome.
Some shots finally began falling for Hampton in the final four minutes of the game, but it was too little too late. They would get no closer than the seven point final margin.
Baxter had a big night for the Huskies (20-9, 9-1) with 15 points to lead the scoring and she yanked off eight rebounds. Weems also hit double figures with 13 points and seven boards, and she made four of five clutch free throws down the stretch and 8-of-10 for the game.
Hampton (16-10, 5-4) was led by Kaitlyn Irick with nine points and Alexis Bowers with seven.
HAMPTON (33): Swearingen 1 1-2 3, H.Irick 1 0-0 2, Olvera 1 2-2 4, Bowers 2 1-2 7, Street 1 0-0 2, K.Irick 3 0-0 9, Grubbs 2 2-4 6. TOTALS: 11 6-10 33.
NORTH GREENE (40): T.Payne 2 0-0 4, Kaitlyn Weems 2 8-10 13, Ma.McNeese 1 0-0 3, Lauren Baxter 6 1-3 15, Me.McNeese 1 3-4 5. TOTALS: 12 12-17 40.
3-Point Goals: Ha--5 (K.Irick 3, Bowers 2). NG--4 (Baxter 2, Weems, Ma.McNeese).
Score by quarters:
Hampton 14 3 3 13--33
North Greene 11 9 12 8--40
HAMPTON BOYS ROMP
The Hampton boys are now 22-3 on the year and a perfect 9-0 in the Watauga Valley after rolling to a 62-33 win. The No.4-ranked team in the state had won 19 straight games before Johnson County derailed them their last time out in a game at Mountain City.
They were obviously ready to go in this one, holding the Huskies to four free throws in the opening quarter as they moved to a 21-4 lead, then improved that advantage to 39-10 by intermission as they had the game well in hand.
Post Stanley Valentine led the talented and deep Bulldogs with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tristan Robinson scored 13 and Stone Hutchinson added 11.
A bright spot for the Huskies (12-17, 3-7) was the play of senior Hayden Mullins, who came off the bench to score 11 points and was the only Husky in double digit scoring.
HAMPTON (64): McClain 2 0-0 6, Jones 2 0-0 4, Stanley Valentine 7 2-7 16, Moody 2 2-2 7, Crain 2 0-0 4, Camillo 1 0-0 3, Stone Hutchinson 4 3-6 11, Tristan Robinson 4 5-6 13. TOTALS: 24 12-21 64.
NORTH GREENE (33): Collins 0 2-2 2, Bolton 1 0-0 2, Hall 1 4-4 6, Bailey 2 0-0 6, Pollock 1 0-0 2, West 1 0-0 2, Hayden Mullins 5 1-3 11, Trent 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 12 7-9 33.
3-Point Goals: Ha--4 (McClain 2, Moody, Camillo). NG--2 (Bailey 2).
Score by quarters:
Hampton 21 18 15 10--64
North Greene 4 6 12 11--33