Elizabethton too much for undermanned HV

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Correspondent
Most coaches are naturally upset win they lose a game, and happy when they win one. It was not that cut and dry last night as Elizabethton's freshmen pulled away from Happy Valley's in the first quarter.
Elizabethton Coach Wes Wright said he was "not really" pleased with their 49-35 win due to the circumstances they received it under.
"They had a short bench -- only two people," he said. "I thought we should have come out with a lot more energy. I thought the press would have hurt them more than it did. I think we got up 10, and we kind of relaxed.
"If you are playing against Coach Babb and his team, they are not going to let you take a quarter off. I'm pleased with the win. There is no problem with beating Happy Valley. I am disappointed our effort wasn't there four quarters."
Happy Valley struggled to stay afloat against a team which kept stealing the ball from them play after play, but came back from the half to score the majority of their points.
With a minute left in the first, Elizabethton's Josh Pirtle and Josh Hutchins had steals back to back for a field goal, leaving Happy Valley down 13-8. Those back-to-back steals would happen again throughout the second and third quarters.
Although Happy Valley adapted to their defense by drawing on the foul, it was hit-and-miss, hitting 11 of their 22 free throws.
Coach Chuck Babb was disappointed with the loss, but not the way his players held out throughout the game.
"We have two [players] out with strep, and [Brandon] Whitehead has a broken hand. So, he is handicapped. We only have ten, but tonight we just had seven. We played pretty well to be so short-handed like that," he said.
"We just have to score more when we get the opportunity. We didn't shoot well from the line. They kept putting us on the line, and gave us plenty of chances, but we didn't capitalize," he said.
Leading Elizabethton in scoring was John Grindstaff, who was good for 12 points, including two from way outside. Happy Valley's Brandon McCloud had five field goals and was 4 of 5 at the line.
Even though Happy Valley's Whitehead has a broken arm, he still managed to sink four points in the game, but missed six of his seven free throws. Babb is certain that things will get better for the team as soon as the players have recovered.
"[Whitehead] is a pretty good basketball player," Babb said. "He's a good shooter. He isn't right now, but he's pretty solid when he is healthy. McCloud played well for us tonight. We have to have more scoring from the other six, and it will come once we get everybody back.
"We were a little bit tired, and they are a little bit bigger and quicker than we are," he said. "They have a good team. We were just a little out-manned tonight."
Wright explained that his team had been working on a new defense this week, after coming off a disappointing loss last week.
"It kind of looked rough out there, but we are still learning," he said. "I think we got some offensive rebounds that were good.
"The team is naturally that aggressive. Sometimes it gets us into foul trouble, like they did early. We flirt that line - aggressive, over-aggressive. Sometimes we are a little over-aggressive."
He also said: "I think the first time we played them, our size and our athleticism hurt them a lot more. Our press was running a little more effective. This game, our press wasn't nearly as effective as it should have been. I am happy to get a win. We needed another win. They were smart. They were setting us up there to steal the ball."