Action continues at Little Caesars tourney

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR Correspondent

   The 15th annual Little Caesars tournament continued on Thursday with some of the area's best young talent doing battle at the Elizabethton Boys/Girls Club.
   Program Director John Malone says he wishes more would come out to see all the great talent the tournament has to offer.
   "There are teams as far away as Spruce Pine to Knoxville competing in this year's tournament, which says a lot for what we're trying to accomplish," said Malone.
   Malone assumes the position of putting the brackets and scheduling together, which he says is not always easy when you have teams being added at the last minute.
   "I'm just trying to do my best, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the legend Pappy Crowe," said Malone.
   In the first game of the boys 8-9 year old group, it was Doe Valley defeating Central by the final of 40-21.
   Jason Steele led Doe Valley in the first half by pouring in five of his eight points on the night.
   Doe Valley had built a 15-7 lead by halftime, which continued to increase during the last half of play.
   Andrew Freeman made his mark in the third period, scoring six of his game-high 12 points.
   Eli Bradley and Seth Birchfield were top scorers for the Comets with six points, while Landon South added four.
   The last game of the night in the 8-9 year old boys paired Happy Valley against Central, with the Warriors prevailing 44-19.
   The Comets hung tough in the early going, trailing by only two points after the first period of play.
   But through the second period Jeffrey Miller displayed his dominance by scoring 10 of his 21 game-high points.
   Happy Valley was up by nine at the break, and continued to step up the pace throughout the second half.
   Matthew Stanley led the Warriors in the third period, as he finished with six points and a total of 10 on the night.
   Central's high scorer was Eli Bradley finishing with 10 points, while Brandon South added five.
   In the 5-7 year old boys age bracket, it was the Elizabethton 76'ers defeating Hampton 24-12.
   The 76'ers were led by Cory Richardson and Jordan Hinshaw, who both finished with eight points apiece in their quest of conquering the Bulldogs.
   The Happy Valley Warriors exploded in their outing against Mitchell County #1, as they won by a final of 34-10 in the 9-11 year-old girls competition.
   It was a relentless pressure of defense that propelled the Warriors to an 11-0 lead after the first quarter of play.
   Brittney Michael led the Warriors in the first period with six points, as Happy Valley seemed to be just one step quicker than the Mountaineers.
   Mitchell County was able to make a run in the second period to shrink the Warrior lead to five by halftime.
   Lacey McKinney and Samantha Holladay dumped in four points apiece during the second quarter -- the two highest scores for the Mountaineers.
   The Warriors were held to only two points during the period, with one field goal coming from Kelsie Deaton.
   Happy Valley went on the warpath in the third period as Kelly Johnson scored eight of the Warriors' third quarter points.
   The Warriors cruised to a 19-point advantage by the end of the period with a smothering press that took its toll.
   Happy Valley continued its superiority in the final period of play. The last bucket of the game came from Autumn Hughes, who created a steal to convert the easy two.
   Hughes finished the game with five points, all of which came in the final period.
   Johnson was the Warriors top scorer with eight points, while Michael added six.
   Mitchell County #2 was successful in its bid of downing the Longhorns from Johnson County in a 26-12 final.
   The Mountaineers kept in control of this contest throughout, as they opened up from an eight-point deficit at the half to a 16-point margin by the end of the third period.