Intense pressure defense carried Virginia High to a coed sweep of Lee High in Clinch Mountain District basketball action Friday night.
Point guard Hannah Shankel had a busy night all around for the Lady Bearcats, who toppled the Lady Generals 49-34. In the boys’ game, Josh Moore scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Bearcats beat the Generals 58-43.
Gary Stafford scored 19 points to lead Lee High (6-4, 1-1), hitting three of the Generals’ five 3-pointers.
“He hit a couple with us hanging on them,” said Virginia High coach Doug Mitchell. “I told them that’s going to happen, but not to get frustrated. We wanted to take away the open, easy 3 from their guards.”
The visitors led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, but the 3-of-10 showing outside the arc that period — hit by Justin Terry, Stafford and Lance Newman — did not augur well for a prolonged 3-point shooting spree.
Lee coach Steve Collier gave credit to Virginia High’s defensive effort, but thought his squad did a poor job working for the open shot.
“When the shots fall, we’re fine. But when it comes crunch time and you’re getting pressure, you’ve got to be patient with the basketball,” Collier said. “It’s a little bit different shooting the basketball when you’re wide open from when somebody’s stuck right in your jock.”
The Generals led 20-18 at halftime, but the Bearcats roared out of intermission.
Cory Young busted a 3 in the opening minutes of the third quarter to give the ’Cats the 21-20 lead. The Generals went back up 23-21 on a three-point play from Stafford, but fell back into a tie at 23 on a bucket from post Kasey Marion.
The Generals took their last lead, 24-23, on a Stafford free throw. The Bearcats got the ball inside to Moore for the 25-24 lead at 5:37. Another trifecta from Young at 5:04 put the Bearcats up 28-24 and pulled the Generals out of the zone.
“They came out of the zone and had to match up man. I always think that’s in our favor,” said Mitchell, who got 10 points from Marion, nine from Young and eight from Josh Tignor.
The Bearcats (7-4, 2-0) led 44-30 by Marion’s tip-in at 5:26 in the fourth quarter. Lee got a Stafford 3-pointer and a transition bucket from Scotty Woliver to beat it back down to nine, but that’s as close as it got.
Woliver finished with nine points.
In the girls’ game, Lady Bearcats coach Barry Reed was unhappy with Hannah Shankel’s 2-for-10 showing at the free throw line. That’s all he could really complain about. In addition to her 10 points, Shankel distributed four assists, grabbed four rebounds and got six steals on the defensive end.
“We want to know how long we can go in the Clinch Mountain without losing. That’s one of our goals,” Reed said. “We take it one game at a time. We’d like to make it through the year without losing and, next year, pick it up again.”
Ashley Grimm had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists for Virginia High (10-1, 2-0) while Abigail Shankel also scored 10. Sarah Jones finished with seven.
Cara Copeland had eight points for the Lady Generals (6-4, 1-1) while Jalan McPherson scored seven and Chelsea Cluesman and Krista Cooney had six apiece.
“The first half of the game, the pressure just killed us,” said Lee coach Stephanie Ward. “I know we killed them on rebounding. Our defense didn’t hurt us. But what killed us was not withstanding the pressure they gave us.”