'Betsy defense clamps down on Happy Valley

By Allen LaMountain

   A strong defense can be the difference between a champion and an also-ran and that is the philosophy Elizabethton Cyclones head coach Tony Hardin is preaching to his squad.
   The Cyclones apparently listen very well, as they showed on Tuesday night at Bayless Gym, when Betsy forced 25 turnovers and also pressured the Happy Valley Warriors into a woeful 25 percent shooting night as EHS won convincingly 67-35.
   The win sees the Cyclones remain unbeaten in Watauga Conference play at 9-0 (16-3 overall) while Happy Valley falls to (3-5, WC, 4-14 overall).
   "You can't beat anybody turning the ball over 25 times," said Warriors head coach Charlie Bayless. "We're not good shooters either, but Elizabethton's defense had something to say about it."
   Senior guards Walter Brown and B.J. Miller each scored 15 points in leading the way offensively for EHS and Brown was particularly aggressive offensively, especially in the early going.
   "I've been getting back into it," said Brown, who's 11 first half points helped EHS to a 30-21 halftime lead. "We like getting it up and down the floor, but they slowed us down. We want to show that we can play any way you want to play."
   EHS led 16-3 after one period as the Warriors had trouble sustaining any offense, and were getting whipped on the boards as well. But, the Warriors made a strong charge in the second quarter -- outscoring Betsy 18-14 in the stanza -- to shave the Cyclone lead to nine at the break.
   "We had a stretch of about five minutes where we played as well as we can play," commented Bayless. "We started playing good in the first half and did better on the boards, but we didn't have anyone score in double-figures."
   A 16-4 third period made the contest academic as EHS went into the fourth quarter with a 46-25 advantage.
   "We came out in the second half with Walter and Vince on the bench, and we still managed to stretch the lead," said Hardin. "That was a good sign for me. I thought that they had us at a slow pace, which we don't like. But we played good half court defense which meant that they had a hard time scoring."
   Tim Whaley led the Warriors with nine points after an 0-for-4 shooting first half, while Jordy Harrison and Stephen Williams each tallied seven.
   Vince Redd scored eight points for Betsy, while Jordan Lambert, Charles Peters, Chris Vaughn and Brad Holtsclaw each added six.