Cyclones derail Pittman

*Despite valiant effort, 'Betsy girls eliminated
 
By Allen LaMountain
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
alamountain@starhq.com

   MORRISTOWN -- A team that the Elizabethton Cyclones knew would be waiting for them somewhere down the road finally crossed paths with Betsy on Wednesday night at Isenburg-Siler gym in the regional semi-finals.
   The Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlanders (28-6) was a team that Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin had pointed out to his squad before the season even started as the team that the road to a sub-state contest would go through.
   On Wednesday night the Cyclones crossed one more potential speed bump from it's path with a 63-58 win that sets up a battle between Betsy and Watauga Conference rival Sullivan Central tonight at 8:30 p.m.
   "We played those guys at (summer) camp, and I told these guys that the road to the sub-state would go through them," said Cyclones head coach Tony Hardin. "That team has been on our minds for a long time as a team we would have to go through. This was our long range goal coming into the season and you saw it happen tonight."
   Cyclone guard B.J. Miller, who looks like an MVP candidate in this tournament, scored a game-high 19 points after overcoming a sluggish first half in which EHS trailed going into the break.
   "I knew that I had to step up my game in the second half, since I struggled in the first half," said Miller. "That happens, but when I made my first shot (in the third quarter) I started to feel good. Gat-Pitt is a great team and we knew we would have to face them somewhere down the road. We have been thinking about them since last summer."
   The 'Landers shot the lights out in the first half, hitting seven-of-14 from long range and were a stellar 14-of-26 (46.2 percent) in overall field goal percentage in the first half that saw G-P take a 30-25 lead into halftime.
   Brett Taylor scored nine of his 12 points in the first half, with teammate Chuck Edwards tallying eight of his 13 in the early going.
   For a change the Cyclones were able to keep their starters out of major foul trouble, but in doing so enabled the 'Landers to exploit some soft spots in the Betsy defense.
   "We had been in so much foul trouble lately that we just wanted to survive the first half," said Hardin. "Have our guys without fouls, and then go out and play our game."
   The third quarter saw the Cyclones turn the heat up defensively, and that led to a patented EHS run as Jordan Lambert and Miller canned back-to-back trey's in an eight-to-two Betsy run that wrested the lead away from the 'Landers at 35-34 at the 5:14 mark of the period.
   Elizabethton took a slim 47-45 advantage into the fourth quarter and after Walter Brown and Edwards matched buckets, Eric Stout, Vince Redd and Miller each hit buckets in a six point Cyclone run that gave Betsy a 55-47 lead.
   It was nip and tuck now as Edwards hit two free throws that Lambert answered with a deuce. Nolan Ogle hit a bucket for G-P that Redd matched and after a bucket by Anthony Sagliano, Betsy called a timeout.
   Redd came out of the huddle and set himself up on the blocks inside where he received a pass from Miller and threw down a monster dunk that gave Betsy a 61-54 lead.
   Sagliano then went on to hit three free throws in a row, but it was the last gasp for G-P.
   "Elizabethton came out and extended their defense in the second half," said 'Landers head coach Ken Wright. "When you have a guy like Vince in the paint you can take some chances on the perimeter. We are a team that lives by the jump shot and three's and tonight we didn't hit enough of them to win."
   Girls
   South Greene...................69
   Elizabethton................. ...60
   For a team that has come so far, so fast the Lady Cyclones wanted to take this trip one step farther. But they ran into a battle-tested South Greene Lady Rebel squad that simply had more guns than Betsy could match.
   Jessica Archer who missed the first quarter while battling a stomach flu, came into the game in the second period and proceeded to left her team to the heights that they are used to seeing.
   "We can thank Jessica for this win," said Larry Ricker, Lady Rebels head coach. "I didn't want to play her, but Elizabethton was playing so well that I had no choice. She got some big buckets for us, but they really played well and forced us into some bad decisions."
   Junior post Lacy Lane rebounded from a terrible night on Tuesday in which she scored just three points on one-of-nine shooting to score a game-high 23 points.
   "South Greene did a good job covering Beth inside so it was up to the rest of us to step up," said Lane. "We wanted to move the ball around until we could get it in to Beth, but they stayed with their defense which left me open outside."
   The Lady Rebs led 34-28 at halftime and extended to a 51-41 lead by the end of the third period as 'Betsy fought hard to keep the game close, only to see South Greene go on a short run and push the lead to double-digits again.
   'Betsy cut the Rebel lead to 54-51 as the Cyclones went on a six point run to turn a 54-47 deficit into a three-point contest, but after a South Greene turnover EHS post Beth Holtsclaw put up a shot in the paint that just rimmed out.
   Lane however was right there for the offensive rebound, but her putback attempt rolled off the rim as well, and from there it was a free throw shooting contest. Lady Rebel guard Megan Gammon hit seven free throws and completed a three-point play down the stretch as South Greene's tournament experience proved too much for the Cyclones this time around.
   "Our goal is to get better, and work hard during the summer to get back here," said Lane. "This gives us a lot of confidence, and with the young players we have we hope to come back next year strong."
   Tanya Dykes and Rikki Baughman, two youngsters who are key to the Lady Cyclone program each scored 14 points and showed that they were not intimidated by the circumstances of playing for a bid to the sub-state.
   "These girls played so hard all year, I'm just so proud of them," said Lady Cyclone head coach Mike Wilson. "I told them that are one of the three greatest teams that I have ever coached. I love this group of kids."