BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
JOHNSON CITY -- The best chance North Greene had of beating Hampton Friday night in the District 1-A Tournament would have been if they had shot the ball well from the perimeter. They didn't, hitting only 27 percent of their shots from the floor as the Bulldogs picked up a 60-36 win here at Science Hill High School's gymnasium.
But Coach Brandon Broyles couldn't have been more proud of the effort his squad put forth as his Huskies saw their season come to an end with a 13-15 season worksheet.
"Great group of young men," Broyles said of his ball club after the game. "I'm going to the locker room right now and tell them how proud I am of them and how blessed I feel to have a group like this. We battled. We handled their pressure and didn't turn the ball over. We missed shots tonight that we normally make, and Hampton knocked down some shots."
While the Huskies were shooting poorly, Hampton picked up the pace from the field in the final two periods and wound up hitting 44 percent of their field goals. But they completely dominated on the glass as North Greene was unable to keep the Bulldogs from crashing the boards.
Pure-shooting Cody McClain hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points to pace Hampton (18-13). But it was the rebounding prowess of Stanley Valentine, who yanked down 14 boards to go along with 13 points, that prevented the Huskies from seldom getting more than one look at the bucket. Tyler Chambers also hit double digits in rebounding with 10. Wesley Murray chipped in with 11 points.
Senior Garrett Harbin closed out a brilliant prep career for the Huskies, scoring 13 points despite not having one of his better shooting nights. Junior Tyler Bailey scored 13. Tanner Collins led on the boards with seven before leaving the game in the third quarter after taking a blow to the stomach area.
"We get a lot of these kids back, and they're good athletes," Broyles noted. "It'll be hard to replace Garrett Harbin and Adam Kirk. But it's a great group and we're going to keep working. Right now they are going to the baseball diamond and I expect they are going to have a real good year."
The Huskies showed in the opening half they had come to play, making only two turnovers in the two quarters. But they could connect on only 8-of-22 shots from the floor in the first 16 minutes of the game.
Still, they were very much in contention. They trailed 10-8 at the first rest stop, then went up 13-12 when Harbin converted a three-point play early in the second frame. But Hampton recovered and pulled ahead by a 26-19 margin at intermission.
Halfway through the third, they were still hanging around. Harbin's two free throws with 4:49 left had the gap at 28-23, but the Bulldogs used a 14-2 run the rest of the period to take command of the contest. During that spurt Hampton got 3-pointers from Murray and Cheyenne Gmillo, and three field goals from inside the paint by Valentine.
A tip-in basket by Valentine to start the fourth followed by a baseline jumper from Murray had the Bulldogs in command at 46-25 and North Greene couldn't recover.
Hampton moves on to face the tourney's top seed, Unaka, tonight at 5:30 in the semifinals. Cloudland takes on the University High boys in the other boys' semifinal. All four of those teams advance to next week's Region 1-A Tournament at Chuckey-Doak High School.
The North Greene girls see their first action tonight, taking on Hampton in the 7 p.m. contest. Top seed Cloudland will meet Unaka in the 4 p.m. opener at Science Hill. Unaka's Lady Rangers advanced in Friday's elimination game by holding off University High 51-42. The four teams playing tonight are still alive for next week's Region 1-A event.
The girls' consolation and final game will be Monday, with the boys' third place contest and championship tilt on Tuesday.
NORTH GREENE (36): Collins 2-8 0-0 4, Hall 1-5 0-2 3, Tyler Bailey 3-9 4-4 12, Garrett Harbin 5-15 3-3 13, Pollock 0-2 0-0 0, Britton 1-7 0-0 2, Mullins 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS: 13-49 7-9 36.
HAMPTON (60): Stanley Valentine 6-16 1-2 13, Cody McClain 5-8 0-0 14, Fields 4-8 0-0 8, Wesley Murray 4-10 2-2 11, Chambers 3-8 0-0 7, Robertson 1-4 0-0 2, Gmillo 2-3 0-0 5. TOTALS: 25-57 3-4 60.
3-Point Goals: NG-3 (Bailey 2, Hall). Ha-7 (McClain 4, Murray, Chambers, Gmillo).
Score by quarters:
North Greene 8 11 6 11--36
Hampton 10 16 16 18--60