Cyclones oust Unicoi County

By Allen LaMountain

   KINGSPORT -- Three things that don't last long are a teenager's allowance, a dog that chases cars and teams that turn the ball over. Johnson County and Unicoi County found that hard lesson to be true as Elizabethton and Volunteer both moved on to the next round of the District 1-AA tournament.
   'Betsy -- led by 25 points from guard B.J. Miller -- forced the Blue Devils into 18 turnovers in an 83-68 win on Monday night at Sullivan North, while the Falcons forced Johnson County into 21 miscues in an 81-63 victory.
   "Miller is so smart. He took some great shots, and when he's on he is tough," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "We played good defense, but we gave away too many shots in the paint."
   The Cyclones cruised to a 21-14 lead after on period and extended to a 40-27 advantage at the break as Miller pumped in 14 first-half points.
   Both teams shot well in the first half, with 'Betsy shooting 15-of-29 from the floor, while the Blue Devils hit on 12-of-26 shots, mostly on backdoor lay-ups.
   Unicoi senior post Ryan Patterson scored nine of his team-high 17 points in the opening half.
   "I think the reason they got so many backdoor plays on us was that we were anticipating a steal, and Unicoi just did a good job making the plays," said Hardin. "In the second half we did a better job of doing what we had to do, and staying focused."
   Elizabethton held a 58-42 advantage going into the fourth quarter and the Blue Devils never got any closer the rest of the way.
   EHS had five players score double figures with Miller leading the way. Jordan Lambert scored 18 points, Vince Redd tallied 13, Walter Brown chipped in 12 points and Lester Bailey scored 10.
   The Cyclones had a field day at the charity stripe, hitting 28-of-36 (77.8 percent) overall, which provided EHS with the winning margin.
   "We needed to make free throws late in the game, and we did," said Hardin. "In games like this you have to make your shots and especially free throws."
   Unicoi head coach David Whaley praised the effort of his players as well as the Cyclone effort, saying: "Miller did a great job and EHS shoots the ball real well, but rebounding hurt us in the second half. I just feel that we got a bad deal in the seeding."
   The Cyclones will face off against Volunteer on Wednesday night at Sullivan North.
   Volunteer's run-and-gun style paid big dividends on the defensive end, forcing 21 turnovers from the Longhorns and surviving 29 points from Johnson County junior forward Matt Cornett.
   "I thought we got back to playing Volunteer basketball," said Falcons head coach Todd Whittemore. "We came in wanting to play pressure defense and even when (Johnson County) broke the pressure we still got them to take quick, bad shots."
   Longhorn point guard Judd Shoun was the target of the Falcon press, forcing him into eight turnovers and that was exactly what Whittemore had in mind saying, "On the press we wanted our front row guys to keep their hands up, (Shoun) is short and we could get some takeaway's from him."
   Volunteer looked like it would run the 'Horns right out of the building as the Falcons rolled to a 25-12 first-period lead, but Cornett warmed up in the second quarter and led a Longhorn comeback that cut the deficit to 36-33 by halftime.
   Cornett scored 19 first-half points to help lift the 'Horns back into the contest, but little else was working for Coach Austin Atwood's crew on this night.
   "We cut a 17-point deficit to three by playing a fast-paced game," said Atwood. "But our guys got tired. Volunteer is just a better team than we are. Player-for-player they are better and I'm sure the turnovers were a big factor in that."
   Guard Terrill Carpenter and post Ryan Marshall led the Falcon scoring parade in the first half with 11 points each. Carpenter finished with 20 points while Marshall added 19 to the Volunteer cause.
   After three quarters the Falcons held a tenuous 58-51 lead, but Volunteer went on a seven-point run to open the fourth quarter and take a 65-51 advantage before a trey by Chad Reece stopped the bleeding for Johnson County.
   With less than five minutes remaining some of the Longhorn frustration began to show as Reece was hit with a flagrant foul call while Carpenter was taking a steal the other way.
   Although Carpenter missed both free throws, Johnson County trailed 71-56. Minutes later Cornett drew his fifth personal and it was lights out for the Longhorns' season.
   "We wanted to make them work hard for everything they got tonight," said Whittemore. "We knew Shoun would be their primary ball-handler and we tried hard to make it an un-enjoyable night for him."
   When asked about his Falcons next foe Whittemore replied: "EHS has smart, quick guards who are well-coached. We know that a 2-2-1 press isn't going to work on them, so we will have 2, 3 or 4 different presses that we will use, and find out which one disrupts them the most.
   "They have whipped everyone in the conference, and we probably aren't supposed to beat them. But if our kids don't back down to them like we did last game we have a chance."