'Clones force Rebel retreat

By Ivan Sanders


   It was almost reminiscent of the Civil War on the hardwoods at A.L. Treadway Gym on Monday night in opening play of the Region 1-AA basketball tournament. For the first 16:00 of the game, the Rebels of South Greene appeared to be making strides in overtaking the mighty Elizabethton Cyclones until the big cannon was brought out in the second half to stifle any hopes the Rebels might have.
   Riding the hot gun of senior Jordan Lambert, the Cyclones turned what was a 27-25 halftime advantage into a 25-point victory in advancing to the next elimination round against the winner of today's Volunteer-Pigeon Forge contest with a 68-43 final over the Rebels.
   The first half was an uncharacteristic half for EHS as it overplayed the lanes in trying to make steals, allowing the Rebels to stay close with several easy baskets.
   "I have to give South Greene credit because they came in prepared and played with great ball movement in the first half, knocking down several of their shots," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "We were not focused on defending solidly in the first half, but we were able to get refocused at halftime and came out and deflected the ball at least 8 to 10 times there in one stretch of the third quarter that led to some easy buckets for us."
   B.J. Miller and Vince Redd managed to keep the Cyclones in the ball game early as the senior tandem scored 11 of the 17 Cyclone points in the period, with Redd collecting six and Miller adding five. South Greene kept the margin slim at the first stop of play as the Rebels trailed by only three, 17-14 with Miller canning a trey before the horn.
   The second period saw Miller continue his arsenal, draining two more threes while Brad Holtsclaw and Charles Peters added plenty of support on the boards, giving the Cyclones several second and third opportunities in the quarter. Trailing 27-22 with 18 seconds left in the half, South Greene worked the clock down to :08 when Brandon Rohr tickled the twine for a trey to pull the Rebels to within two at 27-25.
   Miller paced the Cyclones with 11 in the half while Redd added six and Jordan Lambert contributed with four points. Tyler Sauceman had a big half for the Rebels as the South Greene playmaker hit for 14 while Cody Caraway collected six.
   With 16 minutes left in the season for one of the teams, it was evident that the Cyclones had determined their season wasn't going to come to an end this night. Coming out with a more controlled defense, the Cyclones quit going for steals and used a more systematic approach to their defensive effort in the lanes.
   As a result, the Cyclones were able to utilize their stingy defense and turn the resulting turnovers into quick points as the lead soon ballooned from just two points to 20 points by the end of the third quarter with Lambert making use of a perfectly executed offensive set to nail a three at the buzzer.
   "We didn't come out with the right mind set early and our defensive effort just wasn't there," stated Lambert. "We can't do that at this point because we have to come out and play each team like they're the best team in the state."
   The Cyclones didn't let off the accelerator in the fourth quarter as they continued to build their edge to 63-37 with two and a half minutes left to play when Coach Hardin gave his reserves some valuable playing time.
   After only scoring four points in the first half, Lambert was hitting all cylinders in the second stanza as he paced the Cyclones with 21 points on the night. Miller and Redd both notched 13 points each with Holtsclaw netting seven for EHS.
   Saddled with foul trouble, Sauceman couldn't get untracked in the second half, but still managed to show the way for South Greene as he collected a total of 16 points for the contest. Caraway finished his season by pouring in 12 points.
   "When Sauceman went to the bench with foul trouble, it really hurt us because he is the one that makes us go," said South Greene coach Terry Hoese. "We tried to double up number 54 and get a hand in the face of 42 and 20 because that was what we were told, but those guys just drove the nail in our coffin."
   The Cyclones will now take a night off and keep an eye on tonight's matchup to see if they will play the Volunteer Falcons for the fourth time this season or if they will get to square off against Pigeon Forge on Wednesday evening.