Jr. Cyclones burn Devils

By Matt Hill

   ERWIN--A lot of eighth graders have probably never been to Dallas, but on Monday Unicoi County found the big "D" many times.
   Defense was the name of the game during the Junior Cyclones' 63-41 victory over the Patriots in eighth grade basketball action.
   T.A. Dugger's defensive pressure gave the Patriots fits all afternoon.
   That's something T.A. Dugger head coach James Jacobs has been stressing lately.
   "They believe that they're not going to lose," Jacobs said. "It all starts with defense, and they know that."
   The Junior Cyclones came out of the gate very strong, leading 19-11 after the first quarter.
   "We talk about coming out in the first quarter and playing hard," Jacobs said. "The first quarter and the third quarter are extremely important because if you can come out and get a big lead, you can pretty much dictate to them what you want to do on defense. The last two games they've really responded.
   It was the second quarter that saw T.A. Dugger shine. The Junior Cyclones outscored Unicoi County 20-6 in the second frame to take a 39-17 cushion going into the locker room.
   T.A. Dugger held a 48-26 advantage after the third period when Jacobs pulled his starters.
   "I just cannot see beating another middle school team by 30 or 40 points when you don't need to," Jacobs said. "That's just poor sportsmanship.
   Jacobs had to bring a few of his starters back in when Unicoi County cut the T.A. Dugger advantage to 48-35 with 3:45 remaining, but the Cyclones outscored the Patriots 15-6 from that point on.
   Leading the way for T.A.D. was Aaron Bray. He scored 19 points, and was a dominating force inside.
   "Aaron Bray is 100 percent all the time," Jacobs said. "He's got a nose for the ball. He reminds me of a bulldog. He gets in the air and just rips it out. He's a heck of a player."
   Michael Rader netted 13 for T.A. Dugger, while Caleb Trivett added 10.
   Jacobs is pleased with the way Rader has progressed as a scorer in recent games.
   "At the first of the year he wasn't looking to score," Jacobs said. "Three games ago I had to pull him to the side in the middle of the Ross Robinson game to tell him that he had to score. Since then he's had three real good games."
   Adam Aldridge led Unicoi County with 15. Austin Bailey added 13 for the Patriots.
   T.A. Dugger improves to 6-3 overall, and 4-2 in conference play.
   7th Grade
   T.A. Dugger 35
   Unicoi County 31
   The Junior Cyclones trailed 23-22 with 5:00 to go, but rallied from that point on to defeat the Patriots.
   Austin Taylor led the fourth quarter charge, as he scored six of his 12 points in the final period.
   T.A. Dugger had a few days off last week, and head coach Ryan Witten thought it showed.
   "We had three days off because I went to Atlanta to watch the Tennessee game," Witten said. "We didn't look sharp. Playing on this small court doesn't help. We're used to that big court, but that's what you get when you take three days off from basketball."
   The seventh grade team is now 6-2 overall, and 4-2 in the conference.