Jr. Cyclones come up short against Unicoi

By Travis Brown
STAR Correspondent

   JOHNSON CITY--Boys first-round action in the first annual Grindstaff/Greystoke East Tennessee Shootout got underway Wednesday evening at the Freedom Hall Civic Center with a full sheet of local matchups.
   In the first contest of the afternoon, the T.A. Dugger Junior Cyclones squared off against the Unicoi County Junior Patriots in what turned into a one-sided affair from the inception.
   A first-quarter lead of 11 points would be enough to fend off a late charge by the Junior Cyclones and continue the winning ways for a solid Unicoi team, which registered a 31-23 win. After the contest TAD coach James Jacobs remained upbeat about his team's effort.
   "We're a second-half team, and we have been all year," Jacobs said "In the second half we did some of the things that we should have been doing in the first half... we played Cyclone basketball."
   Trailing 18-5 at the half, things looked bleak for the young Cyclones as the halfcourt offense could not get the shots to fall. Early in the third quarter, TAD responded and began to climb back into the lopsided contest.
   Jake Peters converted on a three point play at the end of the quarter to pull the Cyclones within striking distance, trailing 24-17.
   The fourth quarter would be unkind to the Cyclones as the advantages drawn through the third quarter slipped away. The pace dropped off for both teams and the contest closed out with a lull as both teams combined for only 13 points in the final quarter.
   After the game Jacobs made summarized what must be done to put his team onto the winning path.
   "We have to play better in the first half," Jacobs said. "Unicoi is a good team and we can't give them that lead and expect to win."
   Ross Robinson 53
   John Sevier 49
   This game resembled two separate contests as each team played vastly different during the two halves of play.
   John Sevier came out of the gate on fire, as Michael Willis posted nine first-quarter points to pace the Warriors out to a 14-6 early lead. Both teams would find the offensive production midway through the second quarter as strong foul shooting by Robinson and great penetration by John Sevier turned the contest into a shootout.
   At the half, the Warriors were in firm command by a 31-19 score. The next two quarters would paint a vastly different picture.
   Ross Robinson came of the canvas in the third quarter to outscore the Warriors by a 16-7 tally in the third stanza. Strong shooting and solid defense were the key, as both teams switched roles as the period continued.
   At the end of the third period, the lead which was seeming insurmountable had dwindled to three points (38-35), and the offensive explosion of the third period continued into the final period.
   The big story was Justin Sylvester. His 22 points led all scorers; however, his 13 points in the fourth quarter helped spark a decisive swing in momentum for the Redskins. With 3:22 remaining in the contest a four unanswered points by the Redskins were enough to take the lead and they would not relinquish that advantage.
   Despite a late charge with 1:17 remaining, the Redskins held off the insurgent Warriors and preserve a comeback win.
   Vance 46
   T.A. Dugger (7th) 16
   TAD came into the contest as a replacement team due to scheduling difficulties, and the age disparity showed dramatically as the youngsters from TAD simply could not compete with the stronger Vance club.
   The effort was amiable, however, as the junior Cyclones showed solid hustle early in the first period, but despite the tenacious effort, the Cyclones trailed 12-0 after the first quarter of play.
   Nine members of the Vance roster posted points in the matchup as both coaches were attempting to work on fundamentals and get most players into the contest.
   Julian Smith topped all scorers, netting 10 points during the contest, but the performance was not enough as Vance sealed up the victory.
   Science Hill 64
   University High 29
   The final contest of the evening saw a sizable mismatch as the Junior Bucs of University High tried to take down Science Hill in the nightcap.
   The first quarter would prove that mountain to be tall indeed. A nine-point effort by Diante Grey in the first quarter helped establish a 21-6 lead for the Junior Hilltoppers, and that advantage would be more than enough. Danny Avery contributed 11 points to join Grey in double figures for Science Hill.
   The stifling defense fielded by Science Hill was simply to much as no player for University High could reach double figures.