'Clones corral 'Horns in OT

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com
The Cyclone basketball team opened up their contest against Johnson County on the Longhorn court by firing 32 points through the hoop, leaving the 'Horns trailing at 21.
The girls' first half mimicked the boys game, as the Lady Cyclones finished the first half with a score of 34-6. However, in both cases, Johnson County refused to go down without a fight as the Lady Longhorns tripled their score in the final quarter, and the boys' team battled back in the second half to send the game into a suspenseful overtime.
Adam Turley led the Cyclones in the first quarter, opening the period with three consecutive baskets, and sinking another for eight first-quarter points after a Charles Peters layup.
Peters scored twice from the foul line to make the score 12-0. A basket by Jon Stout after an offensive rebound broke the run, but Peters was quick to hit a trey to widen the gap.
"I think it's a tough conference, and every night you don't come out and play, you're going to lose," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "Anytime you come up here, Atwood does a great job -- they're going to play hard, they're going to play with a lot of heart, and they're going to give you their best shot.
"I told our guys this week, we had our hardest week we've had of practice, I said, 'We're going to war, and that's the way it is."
A Longhorn effort led by Stout and Judd Shoun, with four points each made the score 20-11 at the end of the quarter. The second quarter was a defensive battled across the court. The Cyclones sunk 12 points, and the Longhorns pitched in 10, going into the half with Elizabethton in the 32-21 lead.
The Longhorns came out of the locker room rejuvenated, scoring 15 points in the third, while holding Elizabethton to eight. Mike Lipford and Justin Genaille dominated the floor, scoring eight and seven points to bring Johnson County within four points by the end of the quarter, at 40-36.
"Our efforts are getting better," said Longhorn coach Austin Atwood. "We talk about finishing games all the time, and we finished good tonight, except, we didn't start well. I think one time in the first quarter, (Elizabethton) had five offensive rebounds on one possession. It's little things like that that we've got to fix."
Lester Bailey drove the Cyclones' fast-paced game in the fourth, sinking a jumper and two foul shots. Turley added a basket and Chris Vaughn scored from the courtesy stripe.
After a trey from Longhorn Gary Evans, a shot from under the net from Lipford, a Jesse Jenkins jumper and two free throws from Frank Icenhour, Johnson County had nearly caught Elizabethton, as the scoreboard showed 47-45 with 19 seconds. Genaille was fouled, and sank both shots with thirteen seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Atwood said that once the game started turning around, it carried his Longhorns into the overtime.
"The momentum was with us," he said. "We've not won a lot of games this year, and I know that's in the back of these kids' minds. It's in the back of my mind. We've got to forget everything and play game by game. I know in overtime, I could look in their eyes, and I could tell if we were going to pull it off or not. I want to look and say I know we're going to come out with a win."
Vaughn opened up the bonus minutes with a three-pointer, followed by a layup by Peters. Genaille answered for the Longhorns with a layup, and Lipford scored from the stripe after a foul.
The high intensity of the game led to another foul, this one resulting in two points from Charles Peters, making the score 54-50 with 31 seconds to go. Shoun drove in with a layup to bring the Longhorns within two again, but a foul against Bradley Brown with eight seconds left diminished hope for the Longhorns as he scored on his second shot, giving the Cyclones the 55-52 win.
"Of course, they're going to make a run. They're playing at home, they're going to protect their house," Hardin said. "I think they did everything they needed to do to give themselves a chance to win, but we just happened to make the shots late."
Turley scored a game-high 15 points for Elizabethton, while Genaille scored 13 for the Longhorns, while Lipford fired in, and Shoun added 10.
Rikki Baughman dominated the court for the Lady Cyclones, leading her team to an 18-point first quarter with her 11 points. Valnessha Redd let her presence be known beneath the net, scoring from under the basket after two offensive rebounds. Laura Peters scored Johnson County's lone two points shortly after Elizabethton's first score. The first buzzer sounded with the score 18-2 in the Lady Cyclones' favor.
Whitney Bishop, Ashley Trivette and Eden Treadway each took their turn from behind the three-point line early in the second quarter, boosting Elizabethton far into the lead, at 29-2. Peters scored from the foul line for the Lady Longhorns, and April McCloud sunk a much-needed three pointer to give Johnson County six. Michaela Pietrowski added five points for Elizabethton, to make the score 34-6 at the half.
"I thought we played hard. I was pleased with our effort," said Lady Cyclone coach Mike Wilson. "We have a size advantage. It's hard to play when you're up against that much of a size disadvantage. I thought our kids did what they needed to do."
In the third quarter, Baughman fired in 12 points, with Redd and Tanya Dykes adding four each to give the Lady Cyclones 20 points for the quarter. Paige Morefield scored for Johnson County from an pass inbounds, giving the Lady Longhorns 13 against Elizabethton's 54.
"I thought we shot very poorly in the first half," said Johnson County coach Eric Crabtree. "I was looking at our stats; two of seventeen, roughly, in the first half -- makeable shots. We should have knocked in a few of those shots. I thought our defense fed off our offense. We got so frustrated with offense, that our defense kind of broke down."
The Lady Longhorns played a very aggressive fourth quarter, opening the play with 13-0 run on Elizabethton, with a layup and three free throws from McCloud, and four field goals by senior Elena Owens.
"In the second half, I thought we played a little better. We didn't quit," said Crabtree. "We could have, down 34-6 at the half, they could have just folded up, but they came back out and did some good things in the second half."
Pietrowski put in three points from Elizabethton, and Johnson County took the reigns again, with a three-pointer from Brittany Cole, and a basket from the top of the key by Morefield. Owens added a free throw, but after five more points from Pietrowski, Elizabethton's only fourth-quarter scorer, the Lady Cyclones took the 62-32 win.
"We're a confidence team. When you've got young girls, freshmen and sophomores playing varsity minutes, and only one senior, it's all about confidence," Crabtree added. "When things started going well, you get more confident in what you're doing. We were missing easy buckets, we were missing foul shots, we were missing putbacks. When that happens, you start saying, I don't want to shoot.
"If you watched the way we played, some of these younger girls would be standing wide open, and what do they do? They started swinging. That puts a lot of pressure on Elena, being the lone senior, and when that much pressure is on a girl, it's hard to shoot well at all. In the second half, they settled down, they got a couple buckets, got a couple turnovers, and you just saw their whole attitude change."
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In girls' junior varsity action, Elizabethton improved to 9-1 on the season (5-0 in conference) with a 36-28 conquest.
Marti Bush was tops for the Lady Cyclones with 10 points, and was followed by Cameron Crapps with eight. Jenny Tugman led Johnson County with seven.