'Clones trounce 'Horns

By Allen LaMountain

ASST SPORTS EDITOR
awlamounain@starhq.com

The Johnson County Longhorns came to Treadway gym on Tuesday night with the intention of sending Watauga Conference rival Elizabethton a message. Unfortunately for the 'Horns the message they sent was that the Cyclones the 'Horns still have a long way to go to challenge 'Betsy on the hardwood.
   Led by another fine defensive effort -- and some sharp three point shooting by B.J. Miller -- the Cyclones (10-2, 4-0 Watauga Conference) walked away with a 57-33 win over the poor-shooting 'Horns.
   "I thought defensively we did what we wanted to do against them," said Longhorns head coach Austin Atwood. "We played as well as we have played defensively, but we had too many turnovers. Of course, the EHS defense had a lot to say about that."
   'Betsy's overall team speed advantage was evident in the 19 turnovers the Cyclones forced upon the 'Horns -- with EHS garnering 11 steals in the contest -- as the Cyclones opened the game with an eight-point run enroute to a 10-2 first period advantage.
   Senior forward Jordan Lambert knocked down a trey early in the second quarter as EHS opened the stanza with a five-point run to open a 15-2 lead before a Tommy Short bucket stopped the bleeding for Johnson County.
   EHS rolled to a 24-9 halftime lead with senior post Vince Redd leading the way with eight first-half points. Miller and Lambert each had five in the half as 'Betsy shot 10-23 (43.5 percent) in the opening half. The Longhorns shot a dreadful four-of-19 (21 percent) in the first half with Matt Cornett's three-point effort leading the way.
   "The key to us being a great basketball team is our defense," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "A lot of that is due to Vince. We played awfully good defense for three quarters tonight. When we play solid defensively people have a hard time scoring on us."
   The third period was strictly "Miller-time" as the senior guard stung the 'Horns on three straight trips down the floor by burying three's from the corner. Miller finished with 21 points - a game-high - and hit four of his five treys in the third stanza as Betsy built a commanding 48-17 lead. Miller knocked down 14 points in the third period alone.
   "Johnson County had kept us at a slower pace than we wanted to play," Hardin said. "In the third quarter I challenged them to get out there, get it up and down the floor like we wanted to. In doing that, B.J. makes a couple shots, and we're back to playing the way we like to play."
   The fourth quarter was extended 'garbage time' as both teams' unloaded their respective benches, but even that went in 'Betsy's favor as guard Chris Vaughn canned a pair of trey's in scoring eight points.
   "Vaughn is a good shooter and we tell him to shoot the basketball," Hardin said. "We have to bring more guys along to where we feel good about everybody. And I think that is happening. I'm pleased with where we are right now. Michael Porter, Brad Holtsclaw Charles Peters and Vaughn all gave solid minutes."
   Lady Cyclones 66
   Lady Longhorns 35
   In another blowout game for the Lady Cyclones, Rikki Baughman tallied a game-high 18 points as well as being a dominant force off the boards. Baughman took down a game-high 10 rebounds -- with six of those being offensive boards -- and helped lead 'Betsy's defensive effort.
   "We knew the way they were going to play against us," said Lady Longhorns' head coach Eric Crabtree. "But mentally we didn't do the things we did in practice preparation. Early on we were right with them, then we went away from what was working for us."
   The first period ended in a nine-all draw, but Betsy quickly put to rest any thought of a Longhorn upset on this night as EHS went on a 12-3 run -- led by Baughman and Sarah Smith.
   After a pair of free throws from Laura Peters, the Lady Cyclones went on a 10-0 run that opened a 31-15 halftime advantage.
   "We work hard on the defensive side of the ball in practice," said Baughman. "We want to try and trap at the top and steal the ball when the other team tries to reverse it. That's where Sarah gets a lot of steals. I feel more comfortable lately than I did at the beginning of the season. It's good when we get everyone involved in the game."
   EHS' defensive efforts had the Longhorns (1-8, 0-4 WC) shooting just five-of-18 from the floor (27.8 percent) while Betsy was a solid 14-of-32 (43.8 percent).
   In the third period a pair of trey's by Johnson County's Nikki Davidson and Billie Hurd helped the Lady 'Horns close to within 40-23, but a three-point play by Tonya Dykes and a steal and lay-in by Valneesha Redd put Betsy back in command.
   Smith tallied 10 points on the night while Lacy Lane finished with eight for EHS.
   Freshman Ryann Tillman led Johnson County with Owens chipping in with seven. Davidson and Peters each kicked in five points for JC.
   "Defensive pressure was the key," said Lady Cyclones head coach Mike Wilson. "Johnson County did a good job against it early. But, it tends to wear you down mentally and physically. Our freshmen played great tonight, Rikki got a ton of offensive rebounds and we got all 14 kids into the game. Everyone that came in off the bench did a good job."