Cyclones discard Cougars

By Allen LaMountain

   BLOUNTVILLE -- Forcing the Sullivan Central Cougars into seven fourth-quarter turnovers, the Elizabethton Cyclones turned a tentative 49-46 lead into a comfortable 57-46 advantage en-route to a 66-54 win at the Cougar Cage on Tuesday night.
   Guard B.J. Miller poured in 25 points to lead all scorers and forward Jordan Lambert added 16 as Betsy (11-6, 5-0) remained unbeaten in Watauga Conference play.
   Central -- a team many picked to be at the top of the league -- fell to 8-6 (3-2 in Watauga play).
   "We got disorganized there when Crain went out," said Cougars head coach Tony Vaughn. "He's our top ball-handler and we had two or three turnovers and forced some shots, and turned it over again a couple more times. I thought our guys battled hard considering at one point we had just one senior on the floor with two sophomores and two juniors."
   Betsy won this game by owning the glass. The Cyclones out-rebounded Central 30-19 overall in the game with 11 boards coming off the offensive glass, many resulting in put-back buckets.
   Vince Redd took down 12 boards and tallied 11 points in the contest, but guard Lester Bailey again was a standout on the defensive end of the court, ripping off six steals on the night.
   "Defensively Lester gave their (point) a lot of trouble," said Cyclones head coach Tony Hardin. "His game has gotten so much better. His quickness makes us a better team, and the whole team picked it up a notch when Walter (Brown) went down."
   Brown, who has battled an ankle injury since football season, twisted the troublesome ankle again in the fourth period and did not return to action. Brown finished with six points.
   "Walter's the leader on the floor," said Hardin. "And we actually got better when he went down, because the guys said to themselves 'We better turn it up now' and they did."
   A see-saw first half saw the Cougars go into the break with a 31-29 advantage, holding Betsy to just seven points in the second quarter.
   The third period was an even struggle as the Cyclones wrestled back the lead going into the final stanza with a 40-36 advantage, as Miller and Lambert hit back-to-back trey's to end the period.
   "It was good to get back to shooting the three like we had been," commented Miller, who along with Lambert combined to hit eight-of-18 from distance and seemed to regain some of their confidence in their long range shooting. "It gave us a lot of confidence. We played good defense and hoped that they wouldn't catch fire on us. They did at the end but it wasn't enough then."
   At the five minute mark of the fourth quarter EHS went on an eight-point run as Lambert hit a deuce, Redd canned a put-back shot and Miller and Bailey each hit a pair of free throws to stake Betsy to a 57-46 lead.
   John LeSueur's trey stopped the bleeding for Central momentarily, but the Cyclones hit their free throws down the stretch to keep the Cougars at bay and register their second win of the season over Central.
   "Their defense put us between a rock and a hard place," said Vaughn. "They put a lot of pressure on our point and got us out of our rhythm."
   Sullivan Central..........51
   The Lady Cyclones seemed to -- for at least this night -- revert back to some old habits as the Lady Cougars won this contest easily.
   The Cougars blocked seven Cyclone shots in the paint and seemed to have EHS on it's heels for much of the game. Lindsey McGrady and Lauren Burke each blocked three shots for Central and EHS had no outside answer.
   "Give Central credit. They played like they needed to. They spread things out and blocked a lot of shots under the basket," said Lady Cyclone head coach Mike Wilson. "I think we got a little discouraged when some good shots got blocked, but Central really had it under control the whole game."
   Central led 15-3 after one period and extended to a 28-7 halftime advantage as Burke scored 10 of her game-high 14 points in the first half.
   Kristy Moody added 11 points to the Central cause.
   Cyclone senior post Beth Holtsclaw struggled with Central's collapsing zone defense, scoring just four points on two-for-nine shooting.
   "(Holtsclaw) was the focus of our defense," said Lady Cougars head coach Gary Surcey. "We saw that she was scoring regularly in double figures so we made an effort all night to know where she was and try to win the game one quarter at a time."
   Freshman guard Rikki Baughman led the Lady Cyclones with 10 points and Lacy Lane -- who caught fire late -- added seven for EHS.