EHS falls at Arby's

By Ivan Sanders

   It had to happen sometime, but the Cyclones were hoping that the score could have been a little closer.
   After beating a tough Brainerd team on Thursday the Cyclones ran into a highly ranked Wheeler, Ga. Wildcat squad that clawed the Cyclones on defense to create easy buckets at the other end and hand Elizabethton their first loss of the season by a score of 65-45 in winners bracket action of the Arby's Classic at Bristol's Viking Hall.
   "Wheeler is a very good team and it is so hard to find a weakness to play on," said Cyclone mentor Tony Hardin after the contest. "We didn't do the things it takes to win ballgames because we just turned the ball over too much and you can't do that against a well coached team like Wheeler has."
   Things looked positive in the first half as the Cyclones were able to maintain a four point lead at one point before the Wildcats made a 7-2 run over the last two minutes of the second quarter to take a 29-24 edge to the locker room. Jordan Lambert hit three treys to pace the Cyclones in the half while Vince Redd was doing his thing in the middle by hitting for six points and blocking five shots.
   Wheeler found their hot gun to be 6-2 guard Tramaine Aaron who absolutely filled the bucket up with 15 points in the first 16 minutes of basketball. Redd did a nice job on Wheeler's 6-9 big man Jermared Davidson, holding him to only four points in the half while blocking two shots of his own.
   "I really felt good about where we were at the half," said Hardin. "We were within five points and I felt like we stood a chance if we played good basketball over the next 16 minutes."
   The start of the second half was the start of a momentum swing for the Wildcats as the Cyclones turned the ball over twice early on to give Wheeler a quick nine point advantage that was as close as the Cyclones were going to get on this night as the lead soon ballooned up to 48-26 after three quarters of basketball. Lambert collected the only bucket of the quarter for EHS with a field goal.
   "Elizabethton has a very good team," said Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb. "We just turned up the defensive pressure in the third and took them out of their game and that allowed us to play our tempo of basketball."
   The Cyclones woes continued in the fourth as once again Wheeler's defensive intensity final wore the Cyclones down. EHS did manage to score 19 in the quarter with both benches emptying and the Cyclone second team hitting for most of the points led by a trey from Jeremy Robinson, a deuce from Chris Vaughn and Nathan Coffman, and a converted three-point play by Derrick Wilson.
   Wheeler, the number one ranked 5A team in Georgia, was lead in scoring by Aaron who finished with 19 points while teammates Richard McCray and Jonathan Murray recording 16 and 11 respectively. The Cyclones received 11 points off the hand of Lambert who was forced to sit the bench early in the second period with three personal fouls.
   Redd added seven points and eight blocks for EHS while B.J. Miller and Brad Holtsclaw each contributed with six each which was well below Miller's average.
   "I wouldn't say we were intimidated about playing Wheeler, I just think we were mental overcome by the hype of playing them," stated Lambert. "We really didn't play that well and made way to many turnovers. We just need to go back to work and be ready for Science Hill Monday."
   The Cyclones will now try and capture fifth place in the tournament, but the road starts with Science Hill and will be a tough row to hoe. EHS takes the court at noon on Monday to face the Toppers, who were defeated by a very good Maryville Rebel team.