'Clones cage Falcons

By Ivan Sanders

   Former University of Tennessee sportscaster Joe Dean used to have a old saying of "They're playing string music in Knoxville, Tennessee" in reference to the shooting blitz by Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King. On Wednesday evening at A.L. Treadway Gym, the Elizabethton Cyclones could have been accused of playing a little "string music" of their own.
   Shooting a blistering 75 percent in the first quarter (12 of 16), the Cyclones took matters in their hands early and never looked back in defeating a team that has proven to be a thorn in their flesh the entire season. Elizabethton handily whipped the Volunteer Falcons by the score of 84-51 before a near-capacity crowd.
   "It was like a game between men and boys out there tonight," said an obviously disappointed Volunteer head coach Todd Whittemore. "I wanted to believe we could play back after that first quarter, especially since we had such a good practice yesterday, but our guards just didn't get the job done for us tonight."
   Setting the tone early behind the tremendous shooting of B.J. Miller and the strong inside play of Brad Holtsclaw, the Cyclones came to the first stop of action with a 28-6 edge after eight minutes of play. Matter of factly, the Falcons didn't score until two minutes had done elapsed in the game on a field goal by Jacob Frazier.
   Miller did most of his damage in the period by scoring 9 of his 15 first-half points in the quarter. Vince Redd showed versatility for a big man by stepping outside the arc for a long-range trey as well in the quarter.
   The second quarter was much the same as the Falcons struggled to get to double-digit scoring before recording 15 for the half. Keeping a constant, unrelenting pressure on the Falcon guards accomplished the mission the Cyclones were on as they took a commanding 42-15 lead to the locker room.
   The Cyclones shot an unbelievable 62 percent for the half.
   "We talked before we went out tonight that it was a whole new season and we were at 0-0 again," stated Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "The kids really responded and our defensive effort was tremendous in the way we defended early and then our shots just starting falling in."
   Defensive pressure began taking it's toll early in the opening moments of the third quarter and before the Falcons knew it, the death bell began tolling as the Cyclones kept piling up the points.
   Redd must have felt like he was in a buffet line as Miller kept the rock coming his way and the big post didn't disappoint as he had a total of three slam dunks in the quarter, with only one counting coming off a beautiful alley-oop from Jordan Lambert.
   Lester Bailey brought the home crowd to their feet at the buzzer as the lightning-quick guard, who is known for his defense, launched a half-court Hail Mary that banked in to allow the Cyclones to take full control of the contest, leading by 30 points after three complete.
   The fourth period saw a lot of bench players getting their dues, but without suffering any offensively as the points kept rolling over on the scoreboard as the Cyclones and Falcons put on an offensive show.
   EHS scored 21 points in the quarter to 18 for Volunteer as Elizabethton began looking to Friday night with an opportunity to complete something they didn't last season and that is win the district championship.
   When asked if he felt surprised by the lopsided score, Miller wasn't taken by surprise.
   "With the intensity level we played with tonight, not really," quipped Miller. "We got out in the lanes which made it really hard for them because they are a very good team and it just frustrated them."
   Miller led the Cyclone charge with 24 points in the contest while Redd responded in a huge way in the second half to collect 18. Team captain Lambert came through for his team by hitting for 16, with Bailey contributing with nine points.
   Held to only four first-half points, Falcon superscorer Chucky Lindholm paced the Falcons with 14 in the game with teammate Marcus Bellamy netting 11 points, including a slam dunk. Frazier tossed in 10 as well for Volunteer.
   Elizabethton must now prepare for a team they have defeated three times this season in Sullivan Central, and this time around the Cougars will have more to play for as they will have a district championship hanging in the balance. For the Cyclones, it will be a challenge but one they will be ready for.
   "We just have to take it one game at a time from this point and it really doesn't matter who we have to play because you still have to approach it in the same way," said Hardin.