'Dogs win OT thriller over EHS

Photo by Dave Boyd
Elizabethton's Chris Vaughn defends Alex Ingram of Hampton.

By Jeff Birchfield
Another key Watauga Conference game, another thrilling contest.
Adam Miller's putback basket with three seconds left in overtime lifted Hampton to a 50-46 win over the Elizabethton Cyclones Tuesday night at VanHuss/White Gymnasium.
"I was like, 'Yes, I got it' when I went in there and got the rebound," said Miller. "This is an incredible win. It puts us back up in the conference standings. There's nothing like beating Elizabethton."
The game had plenty of ebbs and flows with neither team able to put the other away. You knew it was an unusual night when the teams combined to hit 10 treys in the game's first 12 minutes.
A good example of the back-and-forth action was Brandon Blevins popping a three for EHS and then Hampton's Travis Smith getting a lay-up rejected on the other end at the end of the first period. Unfazed Smith opened up the next period by knocking down a trey of his own.
It continued that way throughout the second quarter with the teams knotted up 24-all at the half. Hampton went on a 8-2 run to end the third period with a Lester Bailey bank shot keeping the Cyclones within six. Shane Campbell's lay-up right before the buzzer for Hampton had the home crowd worked up to a frenzy.
Before things got too out of hand, Bailey worked more magic. He pick-pocketed a Bulldog guard and made a lay-up and later hit two consecutive treys to tie the game up at 38-apiece.
Toward the end of regulation with the game tied at 40, Miller had a chance to put the 'Dogs ahead but couldn't connect on a jumper. That allowed the Cyclones to take one last shot. Bailey's drove to the hoop, but his shot missed at the buzzer. Still Bailey had given his team a chance to win.
"Lester played a great fourth quarter," said EHS head coach Tony Hardin. "We just got outplayed by a good team in their gym tonight. We have got some things to fix, but we'll go back and go to the gym and work on those things. Bud (Hazelwood) did a great job and his kids did the things they needed to win."
In overtime, Blevins got the ball rolling for the Cyclones finishing a fast break for a two-point lead. A Miller free throw preceded a 13' jumper by Campbell that put Hampton back in the lead.
The Bulldogs were up by three after a basket by Lucas Honeycutt before Chris Vaughn hit on the other end to pull Elizabethton back within one. After a missed lay-up by Zac Trivette, Bailey took advantage on a fast break by drawing a foul. He sank two free throws with 20 seconds left to put the Cyclones back on top.
Smith launched a shot from the corner, leading to Miller's put back. Hardin called a timeout to stop the clock, but a technical foul was called since the team had used all their timeouts.
Smith free throws then put the game away.
"This is a big rivalry," said winning coach Bud Hazelwood. "Elizabethton played well and we played well. It came down to one or two possessions that was a difference in the game. Their pressure bothered us in the third quarter and fourth quarter, but Lucas Honeycutt did a good job running the show.
"Adam is deserving of making the basket at the end. He has carried us this season. He had taken two last second shots that had ironed out and it was good to see him hit one."
Smith was the game's leading scorer with 18 points, Miller added 15 for Hampton and Campbell chipped in with seven.
Elizabethton had a more balanced effort. Bailey was in double figures with 12. Blevins netted seven, while Charles Peters, J.C. Atkinson and Adam Turley scored six apiece.
With the win, Hampton improved to 3-4 in the Watauga Conference and 6-12 overall. The Cyclones fell to records of 4-3 and 9-9, but remain only one game out of the conference lead.
Lady Cyclones 53
Lady Bulldogs 39
"When Rikki decides we're going to win, it's hard to stop her. It's amazing how she can fill up a stat sheet," said Elizabethton head coach Mike Wilson after witnessing star player Rikki Baughman post 35 points against the Lady Bulldogs.
Trailing 26-23 at the half, Baughman took over for the Lady Cyclones. How dominant was she in the second half of the game? Let the numbers tell the story.
At one point in the second half 13 of the last 14 EHS scores came courtesy of Baughman, including the last 10 consecutive scores.
"My team was really making good passes to me," said a modest Baughman. "We were ready for tonight. This was a big game on our road of trying to go undefeated."
The Lady Cyclones did remain perfect in league play at 7-0, but in the first half, it looked like another outcome might be shaping up.
Behind the inspired play of Joy Gardner and Heather Chambers, the Lady 'Dogs led 9-8 at the end of one quarter and by three points at the half.
"I just came out real intense," said Gardner, who led the team with 14 points. "I was pumped up for such a big game. I just took it to the floor on both ends.
"We came out determined in the first half. It just didn't carry over to the second half as much as we wanted to."
Chambers registered 11 points herself, but did have to leave the game after hitting her head on the gym floor after a hard collision with the Lady Cyclones' Valneesha Redd. According to her head coach Leslie Campbell, Chambers was recovering fine after the game.
Campbell, whose team now is 4-3 in the conference, agreed with Gardner's earlier assessment.
"Like Joy said, if they would have carried it over to the second half, it would have been a different ballgame," Campbell commented. "We just made a few mistakes, a few missed shots that turned the game."
Baughman helped make that turn more dramatic, both offensively and with her defense. She killed three Hampton fast breaks in the third quarter alone.
She was by no means a one-person team. Michaela Pietrowski gave EHS a strong inside presence earlier in the game and scored eight points. The Lady Cyclones as a whole played terrific defense in the latter stages of the contest with Valerie Kauffield, Tanya Dykes and Redd all forcing Hampton turnovers as EHS went on an 18-3 run that ultimately changed the course of the game.
Next up for Hampton is a visit to Volunteer on Friday, while Elizabethton will return to action at Treadway Gym, hosting Sullivan Central.