Lady Jr. Cyclones eliminate Unicoi;  Jr. Cyclones push 'Toppers to limit

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The Jr. Lady Cyclones knocked Unicoi County out of tournament play Saturday afternoon as they took the 39-31 victory. Both teams' coaches mentioned the difference in success from the penalty stripe as the deciding factor in the game.
   "We've been working on foul shots hard," said TAD coach Angie Barker. "All that hard work we were doing on foul shots paid off."
   Unicoi coach Andy Bernet echoed Barker's statement. "The first half, neither team was really going offensively," he said. "The big key was that they were more aggressive than us. They hit 17 more free throws than we did."
   After Unicoi took the 7-5 lead by the end of the first quarter, Kelli Culler fired in six points in the second to make up the bulk of TAD's nine-point second quarter, and led the Jr. Lady Cyclones to the 14-11 lead at halftime. Culler dropped a game-high 15 points, seven of which were in the fourth quarter, to help her team deepen the lead when it counted.
   "The second half, we had heart -- we wanted the game. We decided we wanted it, and we just took control of it," said Barker. "Things were cut and dry. Either we won, or we went to the house. They had to have the heart for it; they had to have the want. They came back, and they showed they had it."
   "We told them they either had to step up and take it, or it was over," said TAD assistant coach Pam Norris. "We had to take the bull by the horns and go with it."
   In the third quarter, Payge Barnett scored seven points for the Jr. Lady Patriots. Jasmine Treadway hit a basket from behind the arch for Dugger, and the team went three of four from the penalty stripe. TAD scored 21 of 39 free throws for the game.
   In the final quarter, Mariah Pietrowski added five points to Culler's seven to drive the Jr. Lady Cyclones to a 15-point quarter. A basket from Unicoi's Amanda Vanhoy and a steal and inside score by Barnett put the Jr. Lady Patriots within one point with less than four minutes to go, but after a layup from Janey Robinson, the fouling began. With the score 29-28, TAD went to the line nine times and scored ten points, while the only Unicoi scoring came from a Barnett trey.
   "Everybody stepped up and played hard, and played great defense," said Norris. "They went after the ball. It was the entire team. Even the ones that weren't in the game, were behind them on the bench cheering and supporting the whole time."
   Barnett scored a game-high 17 points for Unicoi County. For TAD, Culler put down 15, and Robinson and Pietrowski each scored seven.
   Science Hill defeated the TAD boys in double overtime to advance in the tournament, causing several Jr. Cyclone turnovers in the second overtime, and taking advantage of the scoring opportunities for the 46-36 win.
   TAD boys coach James Jacobs' team got a second dose of the Jr. Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon after facing them in the conference championship game Thursday. "Turnovers really kind of hurt us," he said. "They had a lot to do with that, though -- they made a lot of good plays."
   Ryan Green started the Jr. Cyclones out on the right foot, dropping four baskets in the first quarter to help his team take the 12-11 lead going into the second quarter. However, with only a basket from Green and a foul shot that dropped from Aaron Bradford in the second quarter, Science Hill put in eight points to take the 19-15 lead at halftime.
   "Elizabethton is a very dangerous team; they're a very well-coached team," said Science Hill coach Todd Barnett. "They made plays in the first half, and we didn't. They kept it close."
   The Jr. Cyclones played consistently in the second half, posting nine and eight points in the last two full quarters. Science Hill stumbled over the TAD defense in the fourth however, with only a basket and free throw from Solomon Duanah sneaking through. After a Jr. Cyclone layup by Green tied the game at 32 with little over a minute left, Science Hill ran the clock down to 14 seconds, and missed a last-second shot.
   In the first overtime, Bo Carter, who scored eight points for TAD, fouled out, and Wendall Loving put Bradford's layup back in for the lead, but Aaron Ebard hit a shot from inside for the Jr. Hilltoppers, launching the game into a second overtime.
   In the second overtime, Science Hill went six of eight on free throws, and Danny Avery scored two baskets in a row. Ebard sunk another two points for the Jr. Hilltoppers. Wes Anderson scored Dugger's only basket on a rebound.
   "Our guys had unbelievable heart and unbelievable effort, and I'm proud of them," said Jacobs. "To come over here, and play Science Hill in a double overtime game is great, especially after getting beat by 17 on Thursday."
   Green scored a game-high 17 points for TAD, followed by Carter with eight. Ebard put in 12 for Science Hill, with Duanah and Diante Grey right behind with 11 points each.
   "They have an incredible amount of heart and character," said Coach Barnett of the Jr. Cyclones. "I'd like to see them go on, because (Jacobs) is an excellent coach, and their team has a lot of heart."