Lady Cyclones edge feisty Happy Valley

By Allen LaMountain

   KINGSPORT -- The eighth-seeded Happy Valley Lady Warriors -- who won a total of four games during the regular season -- have made it their mission to make life miserable for their tormentors during the District 1-AA tournament.
   The Lady Warriors, who dispatched number one seed Sullivan Central on Saturday, battled the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones to the wire on Tuesday night before falling by a 44-42 count at Sullivan North High School.
   'Betsy began like a house-afire, scoring the first seven points of the game, including a trey by Rikki Baughman, but Warrior guard Brandi Dugger showed the type of player that she has evolved into as she began taking the ball to the hoop.
   Dugger scored 14 points by driving the lane and scoring, or dishing off when the Cyclone defense collapsed on her.
   When asked what his team did to stop Dugger on this night, Lady Cyclone head coach Mike Wilson joked: "Evidently nothing. You just have to do the best you can. She was extremely tough to guard."
   Warrior point guard Mandy Byrd also began taking excursions down the Cyclone paint area, scoring 13 points on the night to aid the Warrior cause.
   Beth Holtsclaw scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the first half, while Byrd and Dugger each had five points for Happy Valley as 'Betsy clung to a slim 19-18 lead.
   The teams battled to a 28-28 draw after three periods, but the best was yet to come.
   Kandra Roberts opened the final stanza with a bucket and a free throw, but EHS answered with a free throw by Tanya Dykes, whose second shot missed but was rebounded by Holtsclaw who scored on the putback.
   Moments later Sarah Smith nailed a trey for EHS to give the Lady Cyclones a 34-31 lead.
   "The shot was just there, it came to me and I shot it," said Smith, whose second-half heroics included saving a Cyclone possession with a save of an errant inbounds pass, and a pair of clutch rebounds. "Usually I just go out and play, if you think about things too much you mess up."
   Roberts scored a deuce for HV and Byrd added another bucket off a steal as HV led 35-34 at the 2:35 mark.
   Another Baughman triple and a putback by Lacy Lane enabled EHS to retake the lead. However, Roberts connected on a three-point play to cut the 'Betsy lead to one and make it a 39-38 contest.
   Byrd scored two buckets down the stretch, but Holtsclaw calmly connected on four straight free throws and an HV last gasp shot by Byrd fell short.
   "No pressure," said a relieved Holtsclaw. "We really played hard. After we pulled ahead we went to a 2-3 zone to stop the layups. We expected a battle from them, knowing that they would be confident after beating Central."