Late rally falls short for Cyclones

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   BRISTOL - An eleven point lead cut down to two in a matter of minutes gave Elizabethton hope. But two questionable traveling turnovers shattered the orange and black's chance of defeating Science Hill at Viking Hall yesterday afternoon with a 67-59 defeat.
   Elizabethton appeared rattled by the Topper press throughout most of the contest, and clearly didn't play their best game. However, some lucky breaks stalling Science Hill from extending their lead put the game in the Cyclones' hands.
   It was two calls by the same official that ended Elizabethton's run in the Arby's Classic despite a heroic rally.
   Perhaps the biggest key to the game for Science Hill, other than the two calls, was the play of Brandon Frye, who was a perfect nine of nine from the free throw line, including the clinching points, in the fourth quarter en route to his 19.
   "He made a big factor in the game," Science Hill head coach Mike Poe said referring to Frye. "I wish we could've give him more consistent shots on the perimeter. He's just gotta learn to get the ball out of his hands a little quicker, but I thought he played pretty good."
   Elizabethton shot 22 percent from behind the arch during the contest, in an aspect of the game that usually swings towards their favor. But the effort from the bench, in another contest without point guard Walter Brown, was solid.
   Brad Holtsclaw and Lester Bailey began the game in key for the Cyclones, while Charles Peters and Michael Porter made some tenacious plays late in the first half.
   Elizabethton opened the first period with a steady lead, which was cut down to one-point by quarter's end. Science Hill took over the momentum and made it difficult for the Cyclones to capitalize.
   The Toppers had a ten-point lead during three separate phases of the action, and although they had sliced up Elizabethton through the second and third quarters, the Cyclones weren't through
   Cyclone center Vince Redd began the second half slowly, but slammed his way to a game high 22 points with five earth shattering blocks to lead the Elizabethton charge late.
   B.J. Miller came up big when he was called upon, pulling out two amazing buckets in the final frame. He finished with 12 points on the afternoon, but proved that a victory would come down to team cooperation with his poise late.
   "Our kids showed a lot of heart," said Elizabethton coach Tony Hardin, "Science Hill's got a great basketball team and a great program. We just kept battling and battling to try and give ourselves a win. Early they forced us into some shots that were not great decisions and we had a couple of turnovers there at the end.
   Jerome Odem (12 points) and Rahem Graham (13 points) were big difference makers for Science Hill although they had their share of turnovers late. Odem hit a pair of clutch trey's while Graham was a force inside whenever Redd was resting for Elizabethton.
   Said Poe: "We had some trouble taking care of the ball and when there is a big crowd like that, you've got to learn how to make the best of the situation."
   "We just weren't getting any thing on them," said Cyclone center Vince Redd said, "Their press is something else. If we could've just pushed it up the floor, we might've done better that what it was. We were leading there early, and then we just kept giving it up."
   Redd believes Elizabethton had their chances throughout the game, but the questionable turnover calls at the end was a serious blow.
   "Those turnovers killed us because you can't turn it over against a team like that," he said. "It was late in the game and they made the most of it."
   Despite the close loss, Elizabethton finished the tournament knowing what they have to do to be a perennial powerhouse later in the season.
   "We just came in here wanting to play better teams and improve," Redd said, "That way we can go back into our conference games and keep doing good."
   "We came here to play some great teams and I think we played well," Hardin added, "Sure you'd like to win, but it's a learning experience."
   After a solid road trip to middle Tennessee and a tough tournament under their belts, the orange and black attack will ready up for conference games.
   If the Cyclones continue to play with the heart and effort they showed at the end of Tuesday's game, their storm will be a tough one to tame in AA this season.