Lady 'Dogs outlast Cyclones

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   KINGSPORT -- Two competitors came to the arena. One a team that has been tempered and proven by fire and the other one tasting the juices of success for the first time in a long while.
   In the end, the team more tested came out on top.
   Hampton took its fourth district tournament title in five years on Thursday night, winning the 1-AA crown by defeating the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones 58-53 in overtime at Sullivan North High School.
   "I didn't even think about overtime," said Lady Bulldog skipper Leslie Campbell. "We talked yesterday about the fact Elizabethton would come in ready to play, but I didn't expect an overtime."
   The game was like watching the USA Olympic Skeleton Crew maneuvering the icy run at Salt Lake City, Utah.
   There were twist and turns all throughout the contest as the Lady Cyclones built an early 10-3 lead in the first quarter. Hampton stormed back to trim the margin to 14-13 as tourney MVP Kari Stout buried one from downtown Kingsport at the buzzer.
   Stout then backed one trey up with another to give Hampton their first lead 16-14 at the 5:20 mark of the second quarter. Cindy Hyatt extended the advantage to six :48 later for the 'Dogs.
   The Bulldogs maintained a five to six-point lead for most of the period until Brandi Fairman of the Lady Cyclones brought her team within four at the break on a steal and basket, 26-22.
   "The game was full of ebbing waves," stated Lady Cyclone head coach Mike Wilson. "It was constantly changing. I don't know what we could have done any different."
   Tanya Dykes and Beth Holtsclaw paced the Lady Cyclones in the half with six each. Three of the six were important to Holtsclaw. The first three gave her 1,000 points for her career.
   "I didn't realize I was near this mark," stated Holtsclaw. "I am just glad I was able to get them here in this tournament."
   Stout led Hampton in the first 16:00 with 11 points and six boards. Amanda Finney came up huge with seven points and four rebounds during that same span.
   Hampton shot 47.6 percent from the field and more impressively 62.5 percent from behind the three-point arc for the first half. The Lady Cyclones, meanwhile, hit on 39.3 percent from the floor with no three pointers.
   The third quarter was a Dykes and Stout show. Dykes scored eight in the period, but every time EHS made a run to close the gap or knot the score, Stout replied back with a score of her own to keep the Cyclones at bay.
   Entering the fourth-and-decisive quarter, the Lady Cyclones were within reach at 40-38. Hampton could not pull away as it could only manage a lead as large as four points.
   Stout hit two free throws with 1:28 to give the 'Dogs a slight three-point edge, 47-44. Stout missed three free throws over the next :54 to allow the Lady Cyclones an opportunity to stay in the game.
   Elizabethton finally capitalized as Fairman nailed a trey with :28.1 left in the game, knotting the score at 47-47. The 'Dogs burnt three time-outs with 1.6 seconds in regulation to set up a final shot.
   The ball came in to Stout, who missed a one-handed toss as the horn sounded to end regulation.
   The overtime period belonged to Kelly Shoun.
   "All I know is I wanted us to be the champions," stated Shoun. "I was just able to step it up and do my job."
   What Shoun did was almost single-handedly carry the Lady 'Dogs through the overtime session. Shoun pumped in eight of her 11 points in the session.
   The play of the contest, which sealed the win for Hampton, came off a Shoun missed three when Amanda Finney rebounded the miscue and put it back in the hole.
   The Bulldogs then pulled away as Elizabethton was forced to put the Lady 'Dogs on the line. Shoun hit five charity tosses in a matter of :30 to give the championship trophy to Hampton and a number one seed in next week's regional.
   "I knew I needed to step up big tonight," said a tired Amanda Finney. "I'm thankful I was able to contribute like I did."
   Said an elated Stout: "I am really proud of our team. It was also good to see Elizabethton have a season like they did. My teammates deserve the credit for getting the ball to me. They did all the work."
   For the game, Elizabethton shot 44 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from the arc. They visited the line only four times and canned two of those four.
   Dykes paved the trail with 16 for the Cyclones, followed by 14 from Holtsclaw and 12 from Rikki Baughman.
   Hampton also shot 44 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from the charity stripe. The 'Dogs collected 10 points from the foul line on 18 attempts.
   Stout had a game-high 22 points while Shoun and Finney added an impressive 11 points each. Hampton collected 26 rebounds to 25 for Elizabethton.