Central fails to slow down EHS express

By Allen LaMountain

   BLOUNTVILLE--On Tuesday night at the Cougar Cage the Elizabethton Cyclones and Lady Cyclones saw a pair of seniors lead the way to victory. Lacy Lane scored a team-high 15 points in helping the Lady Cyclones to a slim 46-44 win, and senior post Vince Redd tallied a game-high 24 points as 'Betsy took the Cougars 58-49.
   The Cyclones had to overcome the knee injury suffered by senior guard Walter Brown in the opening minute of play against their toughest Watauga Conference foe, but the team showed a lot of resilience in pulling out a road win.
   "Walter is the heart and soul of this team," commented Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "The rest of the guys just decided 'he's gone, we're going to pick it up.' They weren't going to let him down and make him think we lost a big game because he went down."
   Brown collapsed in the lane with a knee injury -- the severity of which is not known -- and needed to be helped off the court.
   "My knee just gave out. I think I'll be all right though." said Brown.
   EHS (19-3, 11-0 Watauga Conference) battled to take a 17-13 advantage after one period as Lester Bailey began to attack the basket and scored five points in the period. A trey by B.J. Miller in the second period gave the Cyclones a 27-19 lead at the 2:52 mark and forced Cougar head coach Tony Vaughn to call for a timeout.
   "They changed it up and slowed it down on us," Vaughn said. "With the kind of defense that they play, they are much stronger physically than we are, especially Redd. He is so tough to guard in the low post, and EHS pressures you in a lot of ways."
   Redd shot a tremendous 11-of-14 from the floor, which included five thunderous dunks, one of which was a soaring one-handed slam off an inbounds feed from Bailey. Redd also finished with 11 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.
   "About the only thing we needed was patience," Redd explained. "We have a lot of confidence when we have to slow it down and go to a half-court game. We don't mind playing that style, you just have to execute the plays."
   'Betsy went into the break with a 31-21 lead, and it looked as if a Cyclone rout was in the making, but Central (8-2 WC, 18-3 overall) was determined to defend its home court and on a three by Chris Martin the Cougars tied the score at 37-37 with 3:33 remaining in the third period.
   Elizabethton took a 44-41 lead into the final quarter and Central's Zach Frye scored off a putback of a missed shot by Martin, but Miller answered at the other end for EHS.
   Frye struck again for Central, but Bailey and Redd each scored for EHS before a basket by Central guard Joe Brown cut the Cyclone lead to 50-47, and Central called timeout again to assess the defense they would run.
   Freshman post Charles Peters was fouled and hit one-of-two, and moments later Peters received a nice pass inside the paint from Redd and his layup gave the Cyclones a 53-47 lead at the 1:39 mark of regulation.
   Bailey followed by hitting a pair from the charity stripe and 'Betsy's lead would hold up the rest of the way.
   "We're getting a lot of quality minutes from a lot of guys," said Hardin. "Charles Peters, and Brad Holtsclaw come to mind. The kids responded to a tough situation and we'll just keep our fingers crossed as far as Walter goes."
   Lady Cyclones 46
   Lady Cougars 44
   Rikki Baughman backed Lane's efforts with 14 points and seven rebounds as the Lady Cyclones kept a hold on second place in the Watauga Conference at 9-3 (13-5 overall) with the win.
   Kristy Moody scored a game-high 16 points, but had 14 at the break as the Lady Cougars took a 25-23 lead into the intermission.
   "We knew that she liked to cut down the lane while looking for the ball," said Lady Cyclones' head coach Mike Wilson. "So we needed to be a little more physical with her. Bump her here and there and try to throw her off a little bit."
   Moody was electrifying in the first half after Central fell behind by a 7-2 count in the early moments of the contest. The Lady Cougars -- with Moody and Caitie Munal leading the way -- outscored EHS 20-7 at one stretch to open a 22-14 advantage at the 3:30 mark of the second period.
   Valnessha Redd scored a basket for 'Betsy, then had a steal and a bucket and Baughman finished off a quick seven-point Lady Cyclones run with a three-point play to cut Central's lead to 22-21.
   Lane scored seven of her 15 points in the first half, while Baughman added five.
   The Lady Cyclones took a 32-31 advantage into the final period as Lane began to heat up again.
   Munal opened the fourth period with a three, but Lane answered for Elizabethton, and Baughman scored off an offensive rebound as 'Betsy led 36-34. Moody and Kayla Vaughn each tallied for Central, but Baughman put back a miss by Sarah Smith to tie the game at 38-38.
   Tanya Dykes gave 'Betsy a two-point lead with a pair of free throws, but Ashli Brown and Munal gave Central the lead once again at 42-40. Baughman hit one-of-two and Lane canned a jumper to give EHS a one-point lead, but Julie LeSueur hit for Central.
   A Redd basket gave the Lady Cyclones a 45-44 lead with 22 seconds left and then proceeded to make the play of the game for EHS.
   Moody positioned herself to the right of the basket and drove in on Redd, who blocked her shot and forcing a jump-ball situation. The possession arrow in favor of Elizabethton with 15 seconds left.
   "Valnessha can block shots," Wilson said. "She jumps over people and we are a better team with her in the post. We played hard from start to finish, and this was the first game in a while we have played for four quarters. We knew we might need to bring some pressure defense and I think we did."