Cyclones de-claw Falcons

By Allen LaMountain


   The much-anticipated matchup between the Volunteer Falcons and Elizabethton Cyclones certainly was no letdown when the two squads met on Wednesday night at Treadway Gym. With senior post Vince Redd scoring 24 points and pulling down 13 rebounds the Cyclones survived a shaky start in holding off the Falcons by a 71-63 tally.
   The crowd was frenzied and the pace frantic as Volunteer roared out to a 23-15 first quarter lead that saw three technical fouls called and a total of 13 fouls were assessed against 'Betsy in the opening stanza.
   When asked how the team managed to keep its composure under the circumstances, Redd commented: "You have to try not to talk to anyone but your teammates. Try to stay focused and do what you have to do."
   By the break EHS (14-3, 6-0 Watauga Conference) had swung the momentum in its favor in taking a 38-37 lead ,with Walter Brown's three-point play cutting the Volunteer lead to 31-30 with a little more than two minutes remaining in the half.
   A deuce inside by Redd followed Brown's effort, giving the Cyclones a 32-31 lead and 'Betsy would not trail again.
   "This was a great game," said EHS head coach Tony Hardin. "Both teams played hard and with a lot of heart. We didn't play as smart as we could have, but in the last three minutes we were focused on what it takes to win."
   Volunteer forward Chucky Lindholm scored a game-high 29 points -- with 20 coming in the first half -- but post Marcus Bellamy didn't fare well in his matchup in the paint with Redd.
   Bellamy scored just nine points and was not a force on the boards as Redd outmuscled the lighter Bellamy whenever the two were on the floor at the same time.
   A see-saw third period saw 'Betsy outscore the visitors 15-9 in taking a 53-46 lead into the final period. Jordan Lambert and Brad Holtsclaw each knocked down deuces to give 'Betsy a 57-46 lead, but Bellamy answered with a three-point play for Volunteer.
   The Falcons closed to within 59-55 at the 3:25 mark of regulation when EHS' B.J. Miller knocked down a trey to give the Cyclones a seven-point cushion that the Falcons could never deflate.
   "We were right where we needed to be at that point," said Volunteer head coach Todd Whittemore. "We were within four points when we called timeout. Then B.J. hits that shot from the corner and the rest of the team did well from the free throw line. Lester (Bailey), Walter (Brown) and Vince all hit their free throws down the stretch.
   "I feel good about this team. I felt that we played well, and we are getting better. EHS is a good measuring stick for us."
   Brad Holtsclaw scored 10 for the Cyclones before fouling out.
   Lady Cyclones 61
   Lady Falcons 53
   The Lady Cyclones got big boost offensively from senior forward Lacy Lane, who along with sophomore guard Rikki Baughman scored a game-high 14 points and EHS once again overcame a halftime deficit in pulling out a 61-53 victory.
   "I challenged the team at halftime," said Lady Cyclones' head coach Mike Wilson. "I don't understand why we had no energy in the first half. Volunteer was playing good zone defense, but Takisha Avery gave us some points down low when we were struggling."
   'Betsy fell behind at the break by 31-21 as Rebecca Manis led a balanced Volunteer attack with six points, while three teammates each had five. Lane scored six points in the first half while Brandi Forbes kicked in with four.
   As they did against Sullivan North though the Lady Cyclones put the pedal to the metal in the third period, outscoring the Lady Falcons 24-2 in taking a 45-33 lead into the final stanza.
   "EHS didn't do anything that we were not expecting," said Lady Falcons head coach Dennis Anderson. "Our inexperience showed, and I think we panicked a bit. We worked on the halfcourt trap for days in practice, but we couldn't account for their speed."
   Rikki Baughman rebounded from a lackluster first half to tally 14 points in tying Lane for top scoring honors.
   "It seems like we are just getting started in the second half," said Baughman. "Our shots weren't falling, but we knew that if we wanted to win we were going to have to step up and start working together better."
   Once again it was the defense -- sparked by Sarah Smith and Valnessha Redd -- that kick-started the 'Betsy offense as both came away with four steals. Several of which led to easy buckets at the other end of the court.
   Manis led the Lady Falcons with eight points, while teammates Leah Johnson and Ashley Bennett each added seven.