Cyclones blow by Blue Devils

By Allen LaMountain

   The Blue Devils set the pace, but the Cyclones set the table for another Watauga Conference victory on Monday night at Treadway gym, as Elizabethton whipped Unicoi County 45-28.
   Unicoi played a deliberate, slow-paced game, but couldn't escape the Cyclones (5-0, 2-0 WC) trapping defense as the Devils were forced into 19 turnovers by the hiccup quick EHS defenders.
   "EHS is a complete basketball team," said Unicoi County (2-5, 0-2 WC) head coach John English. "Their extremely tough defensive pressure got to us, and we turned the ball over way too much."
   A pair of quarter-ending three's - first by freshman Charles Peters to end the first quarter, then a first half-ending trey by B.J. Miller - helped Betsy open a 25-13 halftime advantage.
   "B.J. is going to make some shots like that," said EHS head coach Tony Hardin. "Charles is playing better all the time. We call him 'Rookie' in the locker room, but he doesn't play like one."
   EHS led 16-8 after one period - with Peters canning a trey at the buzzer - and with Miller knocking down a tough corner jumper the Cyclones took a nice lead into the break.
   Neither team shot well in the first half, with the Devils deliberate pace seeming to distract the Betsy offensive rhythm. EHS shot 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) to Unicoi's woeful four-of-14 (28.6 percent), while Betsy owned the boards with a 15-nine advantage and forced the Blue Devils into 13 first half turnovers.
   "We were probably over emotional tonight," commented Hardin. "Being out there in front of the home crowd for the first time we may have tried too hard offensively. Defensively, we were flying around, and any time you hold a team to 27 points you have to be pleased."
   The third period saw the Cyclones extend their advantage to 36-19 as Unicoi County simply couldn't get their shots to fall. In the fourth stanza the Cyclones opened a 20-point lead at 41-21 as Vince Redd hit on a jumper, as did Jordan Lambert and Walter Brown canned one-of-two from the charity stripe to open the period.
   "Our field goal percentage was horrendous," English said. "Of course that kid in the middle changes a lot of shots. Even if he's five feet away, our guys were worrying about where he was. The Cyclones also have good defense on the perimeter with Brown and Bailey, and we aren't the kind of team to run up and down the floor with these guys."
   Miller led the EHS offense with 12 points, while Brown chipped in with 10 and Bailey and Redd each tallied six. For the Blue Devils Matt White had 11 points and Phillip Davis added five.
   Unicoi County 41
   Elizabethton 36
   With scoring machine Rikki Baughman held to one point in the first half, the Lady Blue Devils raised their won-lost mark to 5-2 on the season, and remained unbeaten in Watauga Conference play at 2-0.
   Both teams had trouble putting the ball in the basket but EHS shot a woeful three-of-18 (16.7 percent). The Lady Devils weren't much better at six -of-21 (28.6 percent) and were led by Amber Bailey's seven first-half points and Elizabeth Weaver's six.
   "We didn't do a good job of getting Rikki the ball tonight," said Lady Cyclones head coach Mike Wilson. "We couldn't make lay ups or free throws. We were too worried about getting fouls and not worried enough about making shots. We needed to have better concentration on what we were trying to do."
   Baughman finished with nine points, but shot just three-of-11 from the floor and was just three-of-eight from the charity stripe. Valneesha Redd scored 12 points to lead the Cyclones.
   Unicoi took a 19-9 halftime lead that EHS (3-3, 1-1) cut to just 31-28 after three quarters with some nice contributions from Sarah Smith and Tonya Dykes - who both played well defensively - as well as senior forward Lacy Lane.
   In the fourth quarter Lady Devils guard Candace Shelton hit on one-of-two from the line before Baughman hit a putback shot to make it a 32-30 contest. Amber Bailey then posted a three-point play for Unicoi as the Devils opened up a five-point advantage at the 4:33 mark of regulation.
   The final three-plus minutes was a foul throw shooting contest with Unicoi hitting four-of-eight, while Betsy hit three-of-six down the stretch.
   "This was a physical ballgame, and getting 10-points up on them at the half was big," said Lady Devils head coach Glen Fisher. "Free throw shooting hurt both teams. It wasn't pretty, but both teams played hard. Coming in here and getting a win is big."