Elizabethton girls slip past Lady 'Dogs, 41-39

By Ivan Sanders

There's a favorite saying that "If you can't run with the big dogs, then stay on the porch." On Friday night, the Lady Cyclones proved they weren't ready to find a rocking chair just yet.
   Behind an outstanding performance by Tanya Dykes, the Cyclones defeated the conference front-running Bulldogs by a score of 41-39 on the hardwood at Treadway Gym.
   Dykes scored six of the Cyclones 14 points in the final period to give her team enough offensive power to overtake the Lady 'Dogs.
   "This was one of my better games," said Dykes after the contest. "I have really been practicing my shots, and they finally fell tonight for me."
   The game was a nail-biter from start to finish. After one period of play, the Cyclones were up by a deuce 14-12. Rikki Baughman tallied five points and Beth Holtsclaw provided some sparkle from the post as she hit for four.
   Hampton's go-to player, Kari Stout, would drill a trey and add a deuce to pace the 'Dogs in the first. Alison Pierce also canned a trey for Hampton in the quarter.
   The second period saw both teams add eight points to their respective scoring columns, with the Cyclones still holding a two-point edge at intermission.
   Holtsclaw again recorded four for EHS, while Pierce collected four as well for Hampton.
   "We played individual basketball in the first half," commented Lady Bulldog coach Leslie Campbell. "If you don't play team basketball, you're not going to win."
   The third quarter proved to be one in which neither team could gain enough momentum to gain the upper hand.
   Lacy Lane would score all five of the Cyclones points in the quarter. The Bulldogs faired only one point better in the quarter, narrowing the lead to one, 27-26, at the end of the third period on the strength of Pierce's four points.
   The intensity was high as both teams took the court for the fourth-and-decisive quarter of action. That's when Dykes took came alive.
   On two separate drives, Dykes converted on the basket and drew a foul. She didn't connect on the freebie, but the team appeared to feed off her aggressive play.
   Kari Stout once again tried to keep the Lady 'Dogs close scoring eight in the quarter.
   Baughman had the opportunity to give the Cyclones some breathing room, but the freshman could only manage to hit two of six free-throws down the stretch.
   "I feel confident having Rikki at the line in a situation like that," said Lady Cyclone skipper Richard Wilson. " I know she has the ability to hit those shots."
   The Lady Cyclones were given an early Christmas present with :41 seconds left in the contest, when Pierce drew her fifth personal on a blocking foul that appeared to be a charge on Baughman.
   "I felt like that was a bad call, but we had two more opportunities after that," said Coach Campbell. "We made immature mistakes which didn't let us capitalize at the right time."
   Seconds later, Stout would exit the game with her fifth foul and the Cyclones leading 40-36. Jodi Stout entered for the Lady Bulldogs and singed the net with a three, to pull Hampton within one 40-39 with :06 seconds left.
   Baughman would step to the line once more, missing the first foul shot, but canning the second to increase the lead to 41-39.
   Joy Gardner would launch a trey at the buzzer that rimmed just short to give the Lady Cyclones the victory.
   "I thought our kids played great defense tonight," said Wilson after the game. "I placed Tanya in a position that I just drew up on the board, and she played it very well."
   The Lady Cyclones were elated after the game, including Holtsclaw.
   " This is just an awesome win for us tonight, especially beating the first place team ," commented Holtsclaw. " This was our first home game since our holiday break, and we felt like we could come out here against Hampton and win if we played well."
   Hampton falls in conference play into a tie with the Lady Cyclones who also have an identical 4-2 mark.