Cyclones come up big at Arby's

By Allen LaMountain

   BRISTOL -- Tabernacle Baptist Academy came into the Arby's basketball tournament with a solid record and the reputation of being an athletically gifted squad that could do it all on the basketball court.
   What they couldn't do on Thursday night at Viking Hall however, was beat the Elizabethton Cyclones.
   EHS jumped out to an early 8-0 lead and held on in the furious last minutes of play to pull off a 51-47 upset and move on to the second round and a date with Urspring, Germany.
   "Their quickness made us a little nervous going in, but I thought we could have played better in the first half," said Cyclones head coach Tony Hardin. "When we came in at halftime I said 'Guys we're good. We should believe that we are pretty good.' We're still young, but have some guys that are blossoming into some pretty good players."
   Betsy raced to a 28-19 lead going into the intermission with Jordan Lambert kicking in 10 of his game high total of 19 points in the first half.
   "I've worked on (my shooting) for awhile," said Lambert. "I felt like I had been out of sync, but I think I found my groove tonight. I think that the way we play as a team has helped me to get back to where I feel confident."
   The Cyclones forced the Falcons into 10 first half turnovers, which had head coach Norris Bain visibly upset in the games' aftermath saying, "I'm so disappointed in how we played today, especially we had too many turnovers. As far as I'm concerned it was the worst game we have played all year."
   Tabernacle opened the second half with a seven point run, led by forward Antoine Thompson who knocked down a pair of trey's in the third period. Thompson finished with 15 points to lead the Falcons in that department.
   "We got back our aggressiveness in the second half," said Bain. "But we were too passive on the boards. We shouldn't have been out-rebounded like we were."
   Cyclone senior post Eric Stout cleaned the glass, taking down 12 rebounds to lead both teams in that category.
   "We challenged Eric, especially at the half, to get a body on people," said Hardin. "And he's such a senior leader that he was able to do exactly what we asked of him."
   Stout's board work enabled the Cyclones to avoid a long drought, which could have proven disastrous against a team that can light it up like Tabernacle Baptist.
   "I feel like since I got moved to the post my junior year, that I have spent a lot of time concentrating on rebounding," said Stout. "All of our perimeter guys can shoot the ball well, but my job is to put a body on someone and help Vince out inside."
   The Falcons closed to within 35-32 after three quarters, and when Betsy opened the fourth quarter with a turnover, TBA's Wayland Francis closed the Cyclone lead to a skinny point with a deuce.
   Vince Redd finished off a three-point play to push EHS to a 38-34 advantage, but a bucket by Lennis Pinder brought the Falcons to within 38-36.
   Redd then hit a driving lay-up and finished with a free throw to extend Betsy to a 41-36 lead, and Lambert then added a deuce to make it a 43-36 EHS lead with 5:20 remaining.
   Moments later Cyclone guard B.J. Miller went down hard in the lane and left with a bruised hip. On the play Falcons guard Alonzo Hines hit a bucket, but missed the free throw as EHS maintained a 43-38 lead.
   With 2:33 left in regulation Stout, once again doing the unsung work, canned a bucket, but the Falcons had one last scoring spurt in them as Francis made a three-point play and Pinder scored off an EHS turnover to make it a 49-47 ballgame.
   The Cyclones finished off the contest at the free throw line as EHS improved to 8-4 on the season, winning a big game at a crucial time.
   Lambert led all scorers with 19 points, while Redd tossed in 17.