Topper trey's sink Cyclones

By Allen LaMountain

   BRISTOL -- His name may be spelled L-O-V-E, but Rob Love showed no love to the Elizabethton Cyclones on Saturday night at the Arby's Basketball Classic.
   Love nailed three trey's in the fourth period, scoring 19 points on the night, to spark a Science Hill offense that was struggling against a tenacious Cyclone defense, and led the Hilltoppers to a 54-46 win over Betsy in the semi-finals.
   "Rob has been here before, JaKeith has been here before. Playing here in this kind of atmosphere when we won two years ago," said 'Toppers head coach Mike Poe. "Seniors are supposed to step up and make plays, and in the fourth quarter they took care of the ball and made the plays."
   Betsy struggled from the perimeter in this contest shooting just 1-of-14 from distance, while the 'Toppers hit on five-of-19 from beyond the arc.
   "We didn't shoot as well as we have from the perimeter," admitted Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "This was our third game in as many nights and our legs may have been tired. The shots just didn't fall tonight."
   Cyclone post Vince Redd led all scorers with 23 points -- with 19 in the first half -- but the 'Topper defense held the big youngster to four second half points by collapsing the defense on Redd.
   "Our defense on Redd made a big difference," said Poe. "We held him to just four points in the second half, after he scored 19 in the first half. That (had) kind of frustrated us a bit."
   The first half saw the two arch-rivals play to a standstill with the score knotted at 27-27 at the break. Science Hill seemed to be pulling away from Betsy in the first half as they led 23-16 with just over two minutes left.
   A three-point play by Redd cut that to 23-19 and two free throws by Lester Bailey made it a 23-21 contest.
   Neither squad had much success in the third period as both teams stepped up the defensive pressure, and foul shooting was at a premium.
   Betsy shot a respectable 11-of-14 from the charity stripe (78.5 percent) while the 'Toppers were 7-of-13 (53.8 percent), but the 'Toppers sank them when they counted.
   "We know we have always been able to play with them," said Redd. "But we can't say it we have to prove it."
   Science Hill led 35-33 going into the fourth quarter and that's when Love went to work. Love nailed a trey and Betsy's Eric Stout answered with a free throw at the other end.
   Once again it was Love from the corner as Science Hill opened a 41-34 advantage.
   Elizabethton's hopes took a blow when point guard Walter Brown was ticketed with his fifth foul, but Bailey stepped in and did a solid job scoring seven points -- five in the fourth quarter.
   Redd canned a deuce for Betsy, but Love nailed a three from the opposite corner to give the 'Toppers a 44-36 lead with 3:12 left in regulation.
   A Bailey deuce brought the Cyclones to within 46-40, but that was as close as EHS could get as the distance shots the Cyclones needed just wouldn't fall.
   "We came here to compete and get better," said Hardin. "I feel like that's what were doing, and playing competition like this is a great opportunity to get better."
   The Cyclones will face off against Dobyns-Bennett on Monday afternoon for third place in the tournament. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.