Lady Cyclones stand, deliver

Top South Greene for first-ever regional crown

By Michelle Pope

   MORRISTOWN -- Simply put, it was Elizabethton's time to shine.
   The Lady Cyclones took their first regional championship Thursday evening at Morristown West High with a 58-50 victory over the South Greene Lady Rebels in a 1-AA game.
   Rikki Baughman poured in 19 points and Valnessha Redd stretched a shaky three-point lead to an eight-point gap in the last crucial 52 seconds by sinking five of six free throws.
   "It was extremely tough," Elizabethton coach Mike Wilson said of the game. "I was just really proud of all of our kids for hanging in there and playing as hard as they did."
   The Lady Cyclones will host Oliver Springs, a 66-54 loser to Seymour in last night's Region 2-AA final, in a substate game Saturday night.
   The starting Lady Cyclone seniors fulfilled expectations early in the game. Baughman came onto the court with her usual scoring frenzy, sinking three baskets in the first quarter. Brandi Forbes added four points from inside and point guard Whitney Bishop made a three-point goal.
   Twin Lady Rebel starters Brooke and Brittany Waddell manned the offense for South Greene, scoring four points each before the first-quarter buzzer. Elizabethton held the 13-9 lead as the first frame ended.
   The second quarter saw a surge from South Greene just before the halftime break, as a technical foul put Brooke Waddell behind the line for four points at a minute and 53 seconds to go.
   The Lady Rebels scored two more baskets and a free throw within 21 seconds to help boost them to the two-point lead they snatched by the buzzer. Brooke Waddell was six of six from the foul line in the second quarter, while Jessica Smith scored five, and Whitney Tweed put down four points.
   Sophomores Eden Treadway and Cameron Crapps scored for Elizabethton from behind the arch and Michaela Pietrowski put up four points from beneath the net. Baughman added another two points to make the score 25-27 at the half.
   The third quarter was a struggle for both sides as each team wrestled to lay claim on the lead. Elizabethton pulled ahead in the first two minutes with a 7-0 run that consisted of a trey and inside goal from Redd and a basket from the top of the key by Baughman.
   The Lady Rebels retaliated with nine unanswered points, including a three-pointer by Brittany Waddell and goals from Katrina Laws, Brooke Waddell and Tweed.
   Redd made two steals in a row for the Lady Cyclones, the first of which led to a three-point goal from Crapps that put Elizabethton back within one point of the Lady Rebels, with a score of 35-36.
   "I thought we started handling the pressure a little better and didn't turn it over as much," said Wilson of his team's performance in the latter part of the game. "We shot it pretty well. I thought Rikki and Valnessha played well. Those two stood out, and when Pietrowski was in, she did a good job."
   Two South Greene trips to the foul line by the Waddell sisters gave the Lady Rebels three more points. Pietrowski drew a foul with just under 30 seconds left in the quarter, giving the Cyclones possession of the ball.
   Baughman put the inbounds pass through the hoop to settle Elizabethton two points behind again at the third-quarter buzzer, with a score of 37-39.
   After a Brooke Waddell basket early in the fourth, the Lady Cyclones started a 15-2 scoring drive with a Bishop trey. Pietrowski scored from a pass in, and went two for two from the foul line. Senior starter Tanya Dykes made a long shot from a Redd pass.
   After Baughman scored two free throws, she was fouled on a steal and went to the line for another point. Redd made another steal seconds later, and Baughman took her third trip to the courtesy stripe on a technical foul.
   Little more than a minute later, Baughman was fouled again as the Lady Cyclones looked for an open shot, and scored another point for the 52-43 lead with 2:18 left in the game.
   The Lady Rebels answered with a 7-1 scoring run that ended with South Greene three points behind and 53 seconds left. Brooke Waddell, who scored eight of South Greene's 11 fourth-quarter points contributed four points to the scoring drive. Brittany Waddell added a layup and Laws scored a free throw.
   Redd took a foul with 52 seconds on the clock, scored a point, and went to the line again with 17 seconds left to put in two more points to give Elizabethton a six-point lead. The junior wing shot five of six from the line in the final minute.
   "I've got to up this lead," was what Redd said was running through her mind as she stood at the line time after time in that final minute. "You don't want them to come back."
   With only seconds left in the game, Redd took an inbounds pass with intentions of running out the clock, but the Rebel defense came after her, sending her to the foul line one last damaging time. She scored the final two free throws with five seconds on the clock to win the regional championship for Elizabethton.
   "We're just going to make some phone calls and see what we can find out about people," said Coach Wilson of his upcoming preparations for the state tournament. "When you have one day of practice, you try to prepare as best as you can for a team you've never seen and haven't played. You just hope that the information you get on the phone is good."
   South Greene coach Larry Ricker declined to comment on the loss, except to say, "We got outplayed in every phase of the game, and I wish Elizabethton good luck in the future."
   Baughman led the Lady Cyclones with 19 points, as Redd scored ten and Pietrowski sank eight points. All three were named to the regional all-tournament team, with Baughman as the MVP.
   For the Lady Rebels, Brooke Waddell scored a game-high 22 points and Brittany Waddell put in 13 points. Both Waddells, along with Tweed, were named all-tournament players for South Greene.