By Matt Hill
Any doubt about the outcome of the Happy Valley-Tri-Cites Christian losers’ bracket semifinal game at the Chick-fil-A Challenge was erased after the third quarter when Happy Valley rode the hot hand of Annie Woods.
Two big shots by Woods helped push a nine-point Lady Warrior lead out to 16 and Happy Valley never looked back in a 60-51 triumph over the Lady Eagles at Treadway Gym.
Happy Valley found itself in a tight game, but Woods came off the bench and provided a spark to complement the solid games that Carrie Gouge, Chelsea Holiman and Kenzie Blakenship were playing for Happy Valley.
The two back-to-back shots Woods made were crucial for the Lady Warriors to put Tri-Cities away.
From there, Happy Valley head coach Erica Beach used more of her bench to get her team some valuable experience.
“I want everybody on our bench to be able to play,” she said. “I told everybody in the huddle that we were up 16 points and that we had to maintain our composure. Everybody has to learn and they have to start somewhere. One thing about that group is that they hustle.
“Chelsea had a phenomenal game and Carrie played a great game. Annie is a big help to our team. She’s a good shooter and she’s a big help defensively. Kenzie had a good game as well.”
Happy Valley was in control throughout, leading 16-11 after the first quarter and 31-22 at halftime. Part of the reason for the first half lead was Happy Valley solving at least temporarily its fouling woes.
The Lady Warriors only committed two fouls in the first half. Happy Valley has really struggled with fouling, but had no such problem against the Lady Eagles.
“Our girls are aggressive and when you go for the ball, you’re going to foul,” Beach said. “It was nice to go into halftime with nobody in foul trouble because usually we are dealing with that at halftime and that was a blessing.”
The win by Happy Valley was a nice rebound following a convincing defeat to Cherokee the day before.
The Lady Warriors will now play Sullivan Central in the fifth-place game today at 4:30.
“The best we can finish is fifth, and I would rather finish fifth than sixth,” Beach said. “It’s always nice to come in and play teams you don’t normally play during the regular season.”