Lady Cyclones bow to Central

By Allen LaMountain
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
awlamountain@starhq.com

   An opening five-point run gave the Lady Cyclones a lead. It presented Sullivan Central a challenge. Led by Laura Moody's 20-point outburst, the Lady Cougars not only answered the challenge, but shot an incredible 53.6 percent from the floor at Treadway gym on Friday night, to capture a 56-53 win over Betsy.
   "They played as good as they can play tonight," said Lady Cyclones' assistant coach Harry Farthing. "They just shot the light's out."
   A trey by Beth Shelton got the Lady Cougars rolling as they rallied to tie the score at 9-9 at the end of the first quarter, and with continued hot-shooting took a 28-25 advantage into the halftime break.
   With the score knotted at 16-16 in the second period EHS' Valneesha Redd stole an attempted Cougars pass and drove for the layup to give Betsy a two-point lead and moments later Sarah Smith converted a deuce inside to make it a 20-16 contest.
   But, as they would do all night, Central battled back as Shelton again nailed a three-pointer and Ashli Brown converted both ends of a one-and-one opportunity to give the lead back to Central at 21-20.
   "Shelton gave us a lift with those threes," said Lady Cougars head coach Gary Surcey. "We played a 1-3-1 zone tonight, and it's really the first time we played zone. We hardly ever play zone, but it paid off tonight."
   Smith and Rikki Baughman each had eight first-half points to lead the Cyclones, while Shelton had eight for Central . Moody and Caitie Munal each had five points for the well-balanced Cougars.
   "We gave them some easy opportunities early on," said Lady Cyclones' head coach Mike Wilson. "And you could see them getting more and more confident as the game wore on."
   In the third quarter a three-point play by Baughman -- who finished with a game-high 23 points, but also fouled out late in the contest -- knotted the score at 34-34.
   A Baughman trey tied the game once again at 39-39 and before the close of the quarter also hit two free throws as the Lady Cyclones took a skinny two-point lead into the final stanza at 43-41.
   Another Shelton three-point dagger struck home however to open the fourth period and after Smith missed two chances at the charity stripe Munal banged home a deuce to give Central a 46-43 lead at the 5:48 mark of regulation.
   Munal missed a pair of free throws also, but it didn't hurt the Cougars as Kayla Vaughn gobbled up the rebound and her putback shot made it a five-point Central advantage.
   Valerie Kauffeld came off the bench for EHS and dropped a three-point bomb on the Cougars to cut it to a 48-46 margin, but as they would all night, Central responded with a bucket by Brown.
   A Moody basket gave Central a 52-46 lead that the Lady Cougars stretched to 54-47 at the 1:39 mark after another big bucket by Moody.
   Redd then hit a trey and after a stop by Betsy at the other end of the floor, canned a deuce to cut the Central lead to 54-52, but the clock was now a big factor as there were just 20-ticks remaining.
   Moody hit a pair of free throws as Central built a 56-52 advantage, and Baughman was good for just one-of-two at the other end, but the game wasn't yet over as Moody missed the front end of a one-and-one.
   Baughman fouled out on the play ending her night with a team-high eight boards to go along with her 23-point effort. The Cyclones never got a play off however as the last two seconds ticked off the clock and the horn sounded.
   "Sullivan Central wanted it more than we did," commented Wilson. "We forced some turnovers but didn't convert at the other end. They also played very well off the boards. We simply got out-played."
   Smith finished with 12 points, while Redd added 11 for Betsy.
   The win saw Central even its Watauga Conference record at 2-2 (7-5 overall), while 'Betsy dropped its second WC game of the season falling to 4-2 (7-4 overall).
   Girls JV
   EHS 44
   Sullivan Central 27
   With freshmen Takisha Avery and Cameron Crapps leading the way, the JV Cyclones overcame a slow first-half effort and a fine defensive effort to open the second half saw Betsy pull away with a 44-27 victory.
   The JV squad improved to 5-0 in conference play and now stand 6-0 overall on the season.
   "We are playing fairly well right now," said Farthing. "The defense was the key in the second half. We shut them down in the third period, and even though we had a lackluster first half the girls' effort was stronger in the second half."
   With a 19-16 halftime lead the JV Cyclones dominated play in the third period -- outscoring their counterparts by an 11-2 margin -- to take a 30-18 advantage into the final stanza.
   Avery finished with 12 points to lead all scorers, while Crapps finished with 10 and both Whitney Bishop and Redd added nine.
   "Whitney played the best quarter I have seen her play in the first period," Farthing said. "Takisha rebounded and showed a lot of improvement on her pick and roll, and Cameron is shooting the ball with more confidence. I was pleased with the second half effort, especially the third quarter defense."