BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
South Greene's Lady Rebels will head into the holiday break at least temporarily in the driver's seat of the Watauga Valley Conference (District 1-A) after beating Hampton 53-41 Tuesday night at the Rebel gymnasium.
The victory was South Greene's third in the league against no setbacks and they improved their overall mark to 12-3 as they now await the Landair Ladies' Classic, which begins on Friday, Dec. 27.
Expected to be a four-team race in what many observers feel is the toughest Class A district in the state, the Rebels backed up a tough two-point road win at Cloudland on Friday with the big win over the Lady Bulldogs Tuesday. The Rebels, cross-county rival North Greene, along with Cloudland and Hampton are expected to battle it out for district supremacy this year.
While the Lady Rebels were keeping their district win streak alive, the South Greene boys lost their first conference decision of the season against two wins as Hampton exploded in the fourth quarter to roll to a 75-48 victory in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate.
The Rebel boys, now 5-7 overall and 2-1 in the league, will play in a tournament at Maryville Heritage that begins Thursday. Their first opponent will be Union County.
LADY REBS GET BALANCE
South Greene Coach Stephen Gregg was happy to escape what he termed as "a sloppy game" to knock off Hampton (7-4, 0-1).
"We made way too many turnovers, and we didn't play very smart in the fourth quarter when we had a big lead," Gregg said of his Rebs. "But this is going to be a very tough league this year, and we're happy where we're at heading into the Christmas break."
Playing without post Danielle Montgomery, who has been lost for the season with a knee injury, and with another post player also on the current injured list, Hampton was forced to rely on their perimeter play and the savvy of their experienced guards.
The Rebs led by as many as 22 points late in the third, and they held a 46-26 advantage heading into the home stretch. But the never-say-die Bulldogs came storming back, going on a 12-0 run to close to 46-38 with 2:51 left in the ball game.
The Rebels finally got to the free throw line, and they made 8-of-9 in the final 1:33 of the contest to close out the Bulldogs.
For the night, South Greene was clutch at the charity stripe, making 17-of-19.
"We just never attacked the goal in the fourth quarter, and Hampton did a good job with their defense," Gregg said. "I think we got called for three offensive fouls during their run."
A 3-pointer by Alexis Bowers with 2:51 remaining polished off the 12-0 run, and Hampton got the ball back with a chance to get even closer but misfired.
Peyton Williams, Ashton Wykle and Alora Ricker each made two foul shots in the final 1:33 of the game to hold back the rally. South Greene never made a field goal in the final period.
After a first quarter that saw 15 turnovers, eight by South Greene, the Rebs were up 10-5. But they shot the ball well over the first four minutes of the second, hitting 5-of-6 from the floor, and began to pull away.
Senior Cheyenne Upton, who led the Rebels with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals, scored nine in the quarter and fellow senior Ricker tallied seven, including a 3-pointer. A 23-point quarter left SG in charge by a 33-16 margin at intermission.
Hampton was unable to shorten the lead in the third. In fact the Rebs widened the gap with a 13-10 spread to take the 46-26 lead at the third rest stop.
But Bowers, Kim Swearingen and Monica Olvera led the final quarter rally that carved the deficit down to under 10 points before South Greene recovered at the foul stripe.
Ricker finished with 13 points while Wykle and Williams each added nine points. Williams and Ricker led on the boards with seven each.
Bowers paced Hampton with 12 points while Swearingen finished with 10, all in the second half.
HAMPTON (41): Kim Swearingen 2 6-10 10, Olvera 2 1-2 7, Grubbs 0 0-0 0, Alexis Bowers 4 2-2 12, Vines 0 0-0 0, H.Irick 2 1-1 5, Street 1 0-0 2, K.Irick 1 2-2 5. TOTALS: 12 12-17 41.
SOUTH GREENE (53): Cheyenne Upton 5 5-6 15, Wykle 3 2-2 9, Crum 0 0-0 0, Williams 3 3-3 9, Alora Ricker 3 6-6 13, Cutshaw 2 1-2 5, Jones 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 17 17-19 53.
3-Point Goals: Ha--5 (Olvera 2, Bowers 2, K.Irick). SG--2 (Wykle, Ricker).
Score by quarters:
Hampton 5 11 10 15--41
South Greene 10 23 13 7--53
HAMPTON EXPLODES LATE
The Hampton boys improved to 9-2 on the year, 1-0 in the Watauga Valley, with a 75-48 win over South Greene.
The way the game concluded it was hard to believe that it was only a six point Hampton lead, 47-41, heading into the fourth quarter.
It was still very much a game two minutes into the fourth as back-to-back buckets by SG freshman Todd Brown had the Rebs down by only 52-45.
But the wheels ran off at that point in a big way. A jumper by Cody McClain was followed by a South Greene turnover and a vicious slam dunk by Stanley Valentine, who tacked on a foul shot as he was fouled on the slam.
A free throw by South Greene's Daniel Lowery had the Rebs down 57-46, but then Hampton went on a 14-0 run over a four minute span to take all the excitement out of the contest.
Tristan Robinson came off the bench to lead the winners with a game-high 19 points, 13 of those in the second half. Valentine had 15 and McClain scored 14.
Nick Fillers netted 18 for South Greene and Lowery finished with 12 points and a game-best 13 rebounds.
The first three quarters were highly competitive with Hampton up 14-12 after one and 27-23 at halftime. Lowery's nine third quarter points kept the Rebs close but they were on the short end of the 47-41 margin after three.
HAMPTON (73): Cody McClain 5 2-2 14, Stanley Valentine 5 5-7 15, Moody 3 0-0 7, Crain 0 0-0 0, Camillo 4 0-0 11, Jones 1 0-0 2, Pierce 0 1-2 1, Russell 1 0-1 2, Hutchinson 2 0-0 4, Tristan Robinson 9 1-4 19. TOTALS: 30 9-16 75.
SOUTH GREENE (48): Daniel Lowery 3 6-9 12, Tweed 1 0-2 2, Nick Fillers 6 3-5 18, Yates 1 0-0 2, Tr.Brown 1 0-0 2, To.Brown 3 0-0 6, Gessner 2 0-0 4, Worley 1 0-0 2, Alcantara 0 0-2 0. TOTALS: 18 9-18 48.
3-Point Goals: Ha--6 (Camillo 3, McClain 2, Moody). SG--3 (Fillers 3).
Score by quarters:
Hampton 14 13 20 28 -- 75
South Greene 12 11 18 7 -- 48