Cyclone girls tame stubborn Lady Bulldogs

By Ivan Sanders

   There's a cartoon where a little bulldog is chomped down on another character as the character tries his best to escape the sharp teeth of the dog.
   The Elizabethton Lady Cyclones knew how the character felt as for 31:00 minutes they tried to shake the Lady 'Dogs of Hampton without much success until the last minute of the contest where the free throw line became their best friend in handing the homestanding Lady 'Dogs a deceiving 58-50 setback in VanHuss-White Gymnasium on Monday night.
   "This was a tough win because Hampton spreads the floor and tries to beat you off the dribble so you have to be ready for that," said Lady Cyclone coach Mike Wilson. "They did that for a long time, so we told the kids to do a better job of not reaching and move their feet which we did better with in the second half."
   Each team played at a snail's pace in the first quarter as Elizabethton crawled to a 7-6 edge after one. Each team seemed to get a little more pep about them in the second frame as Wilson inserted Takisha Avery who drew success in the paint as she scored six points in the period to give the Lady Cyclones a little boost.
   Hampton outplayed Elizabethton in the quarter, though, as Lauren Pittman and Heather Chambers accounted for four points each with Joy Gardner adding three to give the Lady 'Dogs the lead at intermission at 23-21.
   Wilson made adjustments at the break and his ladies responded with some inspired play behind Sarah Smith, Lacy Lane, and Valnessha Redd. With cat-like instincts Smith and Redd were able to swipe the ball from the Lady 'Dogs ballhandlers while Lane was muscling inside to force key turnovers as well.
   "In the first half we weren't ready to play, which we've seemed to have a problem with the last few games," stated Smith. "We played a lot better defensively in the second half and that was the difference."
   While the trio was taking care of business defensively, Rikki Baughman and Brandi Forbes were burying the points to turn the two-point deficit into a 37-30 lead. Baughman rained in five points while Forbes showed a smooth shooters touch to record six points in the quarter.
   The Lady 'Dogs were in their house and weren't ready to back down as they staged a fourth quarter rally that saw Lindsey Harsh and Lacey Oliver pump in six points each to try and give the 'Dogs a chance of snatching away the victory.
   It wasn't to be on this night, though, as down the stretch the youthful Lady 'Dogs found themselves in the proverbial doghouse with three key players being disqualified on fouls and the Lady Cyclones converting at the line to take the key conference win.
   EHS hit 15 of 21 from the charity stripe to seal the deal in the fourth quarter alone. Baughman led the Lady Cyclones with 13 while Smith followed closely with 11 and Tanya Dykes adding a quiet 10 for the contest. Gardner finished with 13 to pace Hampton while Pittman was the only other Lady 'Dog in double digits in scoring with 10.
   Coach Leslie Campbell, who has been blessed with several quality teams in her stay at Hampton, realizes that her team is young, but one thing they will have to overcome is their immaturity as a basketball team.
   "We made some immature mistakes there at one time in our press which allowed them to get an easy lay-up when we told them what to watch for on the play," stated Coach Campbell. "It got away from us there at that point and we have struggled to play aggressive enough to be able to win these games late."