Cyclones rout Cougars

By Allen LaMountain

   On Friday night at Treadway Gym, the Sullivan Central Cougars met the Elizabethton Cyclones for the third time this season -- with nary a win to show for it -- and as we all know the third time's the charm, right? Wrong.
   As they have all season, the Cyclones' superior quickness and rebounding made a good team look ordinary as 'Betsy romped to a 64-44 decision.
   EHS outrebounded the Cougars and forced Central into 19 turnovers -- many leading to fast-break layups at the other end -- as the Cyclones remained unbeaten in Watauga Conference play at 12-0, (17-6 overall).
   Central saw its record fall to 13-11 (6-6 conference) with the loss.
   "Turnovers hurt us," said Cougars head coach Tony Vaughn. "EHS was more aggressive than we were and I don't understand that happening. Every time we made a run they came right back."
   'Betsy took a 35-27 lead into the intermission behind nine points from guard Walter Brown and seven points from Lester Bailey as the Cyclones pulled away early and forced Central into playing catch-up.
   EHS recorded 11 steals in the game, with Brown good for five of those.
   Brown reflected on his teams defensive efforts, saying: "Communication on the floor is the key for us. We always look for each other and know what they other guy will do. That and the intensity. We have to keep our level of intensity high."
   The Cyclones displayed plenty of intensity on the boards and with their play inside as Central came out playing a more physical brand of play than they had shown in previous contests.
   Posts Matt Dunford and Gabe Van Noy held their own underneath against Cyclone posts Vince Redd and Eric Stout, outscoring the Betsy duo 17-16 on the night.
   Redd and Stout battled foul trouble all evening, but Jordan Lambert picked up the slack with 10 points and six boards -- showing a bit of a mean streak inside as well.
   "Jordan can play inside," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "He played there all last year and it really helped his game. When we get in foul trouble we can put him in the post and get solid play. He's a versatile kid."
   Central shot just 13-of-35 from the floor (37.1 percent) and were a dreadful zero-for-eight from distance. The Cougars only saving grace was that they shot a splendid 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) from the charity stripe.
   That was the one area the Cyclones did not excel at shooting just 11-of-24 on free throws (45.8 percent), but when you force turnovers and tempo that covers up a lot of mistakes.
   "I thought our guard play tonight was as good as it has been all season," said Hardin. "In terms of decision making and defending, B.J. (Miller), Walter and Lester set the tempo. When you can score off turnovers like we did it makes the game quicker and you get easy buckets."
   Betsy led 52-38 after three periods, but Central made a mini-run to open the fourth period to close it to a 12 point contest at 54-42, but a steal and bucket by Brown and a free throw by Redd quickly pushed the deficit back to 15 at 57-42 at the 5:50 mark of regulation.
   Miller added 12 points to the Cyclone effort while Bailey and Stout each tallied nine and Redd scored seven. For Central, normally reliable scorer John LeSueur scored just seven points while Josh Crain led the way with 10 points for the Cougars.
   "Getting turnovers and getting to the free throw line are things you need to do to win games," said Vaughn. "And those were the things we didn't do tonight."
   Cyclone notes: The Cyclones have two tough Watauga Conference matchups left in their efforts to finish unbeaten. The first challenge will be on Tuesday when the Cyclones face the Hampton Bulldogs at Van Huss / White gym, and on Friday when the Volunteer Falcons come to call at Treadway gym.