Cyclone rally falls one point short vs. Falcons

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   Like a persistent internet popup advertisement, the Cyclones refused to let the Falcons merely shut them down without a struggle.
   Elizabethton overcame a six-point deficit in the final 57 seconds, as Lester Bailey made two steals and Brandon Blevins sunk a three-pointer in the last 30 seconds, to make it a one-point loss, with a score of 54-53.
   "I thought we played with an awful lot of heart late," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "I was really tickled with their effort. (Volunteer is) a great team, so getting back in it, I give our kids a lot of credit."
   Blevins and Volunteer's Charles Lindholm went head to head in the first quarter, scoring six points each for their teams. Their teammates followed suit, keeping the score teetering back and forth until the quarter ended with Elizabethton up by one point, at 13-12.
   Blevins was the Cyclones' leading scorer, with 17 points, while Bailey pitched in 15. In the second quarter, Lindholm broke the Volunteer's record for most points scored, which was formerly held by Milligan senior guard Roy Richmond with 1,457 points. The game was stopped momentarily for a Richmond-Lindholm handshake, and recognition of both players' accomplishments.
   The Falcons opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run, with four points from Jay Hughes, three from Jacob Frazier, and two by J.C. Frazier. A Blevins dunk and Bailey layup put the Cyclones within four points, and the half ended with Volunteer in the lead, 27-21.
   Hardin blamed the loss on early mistakes, rather than late missed shots or the three times the Falcons went to the foul line in the final minute. "I just felt like we missed some opportunities early, to make shots, and make plays that we didn't," he said.
   In the third quarter, Bailey put in six points for the Cyclones, but eight points from Jacob Frazier and five from Hughes countered the attack, and the score at the beginning of the fourth saw Volunteer ahead by 12.
   A 15-6 Cyclone scoring run that lasted six and a half minutes put Elizabethton within three points of overtaking Volunteer. However, three fouls sent Jacob Frazier and Michael Porter to the line in the final 1:09, with Frazier shooting two for four, and Porter hitting both of his baskets.
   "Porter threw free throws after we couldn't hit them, which were huge, and J.C. taking that charge, and we got a big rebound down there one time," said Volunteer coach Todd Whittimore. "All those were important, and when we stopped them from coming back, all those little things ended up mattering."
   Charles Peters scored a basket with 46 seconds left, and went to the line to score another point at the 35-second mark to put Elizabethton back within four. Bailey stole Volunteer's possession, which led Blevins' trey with nine seconds left, making the score 54-53. Tension was high as Volunteer took possession again, but Bailey stepped in and snatched the ball a second time, and went for another three with seconds left, but it refused to go in.
   "I thought we did a great job defensively to give ourselves a chance," Coach Hardin said. "We got two or three steals and Blevins makes a shot, and we cut it, and then we run a play and get another pretty good shot that doesn't go."
   Jacob Frazier tied Blevins' game-high score and led the Falcons with 17 points. Hughes put down 15, and Lindholm scored 14 points.
   "We had a chance of winning," Hardin added.
   His Cyclones played a 21-point fourth quarter, while holding Volunteer to ten points.
   "We had a shot go up, so that's all you can ask for in this gym," said Hardin. "The kids played hard, and we're getting better. We've got two more weeks of season left, so we'll see in the district."
   The Lady Cyclones took a 41-20 halftime lead and held it to defeat the Lady Falcons 68-45. Rikki Baughman single-handedly scored 20 points in the two quarters that she played, almost a third of Elizabethton's total score.
   "It was a really good game for us. We have to play tomorrow at 2:30 at D-B," Elizabethton coach Mike Wilson said after the game Friday night. "We wanted to give our starters some rest. They went out there and played real early and got the lead, so we were able to sub."
   Whitney Bishop added two baskets in the first, and Valneesha Redd scored a three-pointer to help boost the Lady Cyclones to their early lead. Baughman scored seven in the first quarter, and 13 in the second. With two treys from Cameron Crapps in the second quarter, the Elizabethton girls were well on their way to the win.
   For Volunteer, Jacklyn Talbert and Mycah Arnold each scored six points in the first half, helping the Lady Falcons to two ten-point quarters. Early in the third, Elizabethton went on a 10-2 scoring run that included a three-point goal by Valerie Kauffeld, a field goal and free throw by Redd, and baskets from Brandi Forbes and Tanya Dykes, to take a 51-22 jump on the Lady Falcons.
   In the final quarter, Makala Thurman pitched in seven points for Volunteer, and Angela Roberts hit a basket at the buzzer, but it wasn't enough to catch up to the 30-point lead the Lady Cyclones had formed in the first three quarters.
   Elizabethton had three players score in the double digits, as Crapps followed Baughman with 12 points, and Redd contributed ten. For Volunteer, Thurman led the Lady Falcons with nine points, while Steevie Caldwell, Talbert, and Arnold each scored six.
   "Everybody got to play and it also saves our starters, or our top seven or eight kids, because they've got to play again tomorrow," Wilson said after the game.