EHS flurry capsizes Viking ship

By Ivan Sanders

STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   The Tennessee High Vikings came out hotter than a flaming tar ball flung from a catapult as they held the Elizabethton Cyclones hostage for over two and a half quarters of basketball behind the hot hand of Justin Hampton who torched the nets for 26 points through three quarters.
   In the end the Cyclones stirred up a stiff wind to blow out the flame and defeat the visiting Vikings by the score of 50-49 on the hardwood at A.L. Treadway Gym on Saturday night in a fierce, non-conference battle that gave the spectators in attendance their money's worth.
   "We used Lester Bailey on Hampton after he hit those five three's and he did a super job in shutting him down without any points after that," said a pleased Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "This type of game will only be a plus on down the road because Dale (Burns) always does a great job and it's tough going against a good team like they have and coming away with a win."
   The Cyclones rode the hot shooting of B.J. Miller and Jordan Lambert who nailed two treys each in the opening quarter to stake the Cyclones to a slim 19-18 edge after eight minutes were complete. Meanwhile, Hampton was doing his thing to keep the Vikings close with a nine point effort in the quarter.
   Tennessee High rallied in the second period behind Hampton who added seven more to turn the one-point Viking deficit into a ten-point advantage midway through the quarter before the Cyclones rallied behind their big post player, Vince Redd, who scored five in the session to keep his team in position to garner the victory.
   Trying to overcome some early foul trouble, the Cyclones were forced to pull back on defense in the third quarter a notch, but still managed to stay close to the Vikings while watching Hampton continue to launch his arsenal for an additional seven points. Lambert paced the Cyclones in the period as the team captain netted four points with Redd, Miller, and Brad Holtsclaw adding a deuce each.
   Coach Hardin then assigned Bailey the job of throwing the handcuffs on Hampton to give EHS the opportunity needed to catch the Vikings and recapture the lead.
   "He (Hampton) can't shoot on the run," said Bailey after the game. "I basically had to get down and bend my knees to contain him and I relied on my team to let me know where he was because he managed to slip away from me a time or two."
   With Bailey in Hampton's shorts the rest of the way, Redd used his strength in the paint to score nine points in the final period. A big turning point came in the period when Redd muscled in against 6-9 Drew Porter to draw the fifth foul on the Viking big man and open the door down the stretch.
   A monstrous alley-oop, two-handed slam by Redd brought the Cyclones within three and revved up the student body for the decisive closing two minutes of play. Tennessee High tried to take some air out from the ball to let the clock tick, but a turnover and bucket from Redd brought EHS to within one at 49-48 with 1:24 left to play.
   EHS turned up the intensity on defense and forced the Vikings to turn the ball over with under 1:00 minute left to play setting the stage for the dramatic finish. The Cyclones had used a timeout to try and set a play for Redd, but the Vikings collapsed heavily on him and Miller found himself open for a 15-footer that swished the cotton and gave the Cyclones a 50-49 advantage.
   "Being in foul trouble early probably caused me to back off defensively a little, but I tried to get in a rhythm that gave me an opportunity to find an opening offensively," stated Miller. "We were just fortunate to have a chance of hitting that shot and I think this game will prove to help us on down the road."
   Tennessee High had a chance at a score, but threw the ball over the rim and Lambert was fouled on the rebound with four seconds remaining. Lambert missed the front end of the one plus one and an errant three-quarter court shot missed everything to set of mass pandemonium by the Cyclone faithful.
   Burns was quite upset by a couple of calls late in the game, but most of the frustration was for his young squad.
   "You know we have lost ten games this season by five points or less, including two this week on a tip-in at the buzzer against Dobyns-Bennett and here tonight with these guys playing their guts out," stated Burns. "These kids have shown a lot of heart and fortitude and you just would like to see them experience a little success for all their hard work."
   Hampton claimed game-high scoring honors with 26 points in three quarters while teammate Matt Buchanan added 10 for the Vikings. Redd led three senior Cyclones in scoring with 18 followed by Miller with 14 and Lambert's 12.
   Elizabethton wrapped up a tough four-game stretch for the week and now face getting enough rest in before traveling to Blountville Tuesday to face a tough Central Cougar team in the Cougar Den.