Cyclone girls escape jaws of Lady Bulldogs

By Ivan Sanders

   The opening half of the Elizabethton and Hampton Girls District I-AA tournament game was like watching two schoolyard bullies on a see-saw trying to prove which one was going to be left holding on after a game of bump and launch.
   Elizabethton's Lady Cyclones managed to take round one, but the Lady Bulldogs weren't ready to shelve their jerseys just yet.
   After building a 16-point advantage after three complete quarters of action, the Lady Cyclones had to look deep inside themselves to pull victory out after a tenacious charge by Hampton evened the score at 59-59 with eight seconds left in regulation.
   Rikki Baughman put back a missed shot for the bucket and a foul with two seconds left to help insure Elizabethton a spot in the next round by a 61-59 final at A.L. Treadway Gym on Saturday night.
   "You have to play every game like a championship game when tournament time rolls around," said a relieved Lady Cyclone mentor Mike Wilson. "Hampton gets juiced everytime they play us and this would have made their girls season if they could have eliminated us and advanced to the regional tournament."
   Elizabethton and Hampton played tight fisted basketball in the first half as both teams managed only wafer-thin leads with EHS taking a one point edge after one, 15-14, on some tough inside play from Brandi Forbes and the outside shooting of Lacy Lane.
   The second period was almost identical to the first as each team swapped buckets and played even basketball with each team scoring 12 points in the eight minute frame. Elizabethton maintained the same one point advantage, 27-26 at intermission.
   Coming out a little lackluster to begin the third quarter, the Lady Bulldogs soon found that the one point lead they had manage to hold the Lady Cyclones to all of a sudden had exploded to 16 points as the period came to an end.
   "Yeah, I was concerned going into the fourth quarter down by 16, but these girls practice everyday and know what they need to do and they did it," stated Lady 'Dog coach Leslie Campbell. "Elizabethton put us in a hole that we had to dig ourselves out of which we did and I am really proud of the girls."
   Dig out of the hole they did as the Lady 'Dogs rallied behind Joy Gardner, Lauren Pittman, and Heather Chambers to come racing back to get within striking distance as time was quickly slipping away. Hampton evened the score with 10 seconds left before Baughman rebounded an errant Lady Cyclone shot and stuck it back in for the winning margin with two ticks left.
   "Defensive boards beat us tonight as seen by Baughman's rebound and stick back," said Campbell. "We preached defensive rebounding before the game, during the game, at halftime, during timeouts, and we just didn't get the message across."
   Baughman was happy about the game-winner.
   "I am really happy about the way we came together at the end and won the game," said Baughman with a grin. "I thought we had the game in hand and they came back which made me really nervous, but we pulled back together and got the win."
   Sarah Smith paced the winners with 12, while Tanya Dykes played probably one of her best games all year adding 11. Forbes also played impressively netting 11 as did Baughman.
   Hampton received 22 points from Gardner and 19 points each from Pittman and Chambers. Tolley finished with 13 points and six rebounds for the Lady 'Dogs.
   Elizabethton will face Volunteer, an upset winner over the third-seeded Happy Valley Lady Warriors, as the district tournament resumes on the girls side.