Betsy topples East

  BRISTOL--That first win of the season, over an old rival, made for a sweet Tuesday for Elizabethton.
  The Cyclones, riding a grueling 0-7 start, built a 17-point lead and held off Sullivan East 56-49 in the Arby's Classic losers' bracket at Viking Hall. Elizabethton meets today's Tennessee High-West Hill loser in the consolation final on Friday at noon.
  "Our schedule has been so brutal," said Tony Hardin, coach of the Cyclones. "We hadn't won, but we had battled every game. I think our schedule has really gotten us prepared for this.
  "We could have very easily just laid down and said well here they come, but we battled. We just kept (the approach) we're not going to lose this one. It was a team effort, a team win, based on our effort."
  Elizabethton's Derrick Nave gunned in 25 points, out-dueling Dustin Craig in a shootout that saw the East forward score 24.
  "It was a whole lot of fun, especially that win," Nave, a junior guard, said. "It felt good. I just think coach gave a tremendous amount of effort. We all came out there and just did a good job today, all of my teammates."
  Nave scored 15 after the break, when Craig hit 16.
  "Craig is tough," Hardin said. "He's a good player. He played awful well, and we kept trying to trap one side and they reversed it around to get to him. He did a great job of making baskets and doing that.
  "Derrick has really worked on his game, so he deserves to have a good offense. He's got in the gym and done some stuff, so he deserves to have a good game. But he just used the skills he's worked on is what he did."
  A 12-0 run saw the Cyclones build a 16-5 advantage in the first quarter. A 11-0 surge in the second period saw them rolling at 32-15. East then closed the half with a 10-0 flurry. Hunter Crowder's second straight 3-pointer, at the buzzer, cut it to 32-25.
  "They go in streaks, and when they hit their streaks they just go with the run and they do good," Nave said. "They just came out there hitting some shots in the second half. They came out pumped up, but we just came out really hard on them."
  The Patriots (5-6) had pulled within 34-30 to open the third. An 11-0 run propeled Elizabethton to a 47-33 lead late in the period.
  East answered with an 11-0 run, cutting the deficit to 47-44. The Cyclones regrouped to build their lead back to nine and weren't denied.
  "The last few games we've been coming out real slow," said Elizabethton junior forward Charles Peters, who was 3 of 4 from the field for nine points. "We let teams get ahead, and we knew if we can play ahead, we play pretty well if we can get the lead at times. We definitely wanted to jump out there to a big advantage there. That was huge."
  Nave grabbed seven rebounds and made three steals. The Cyclones won the battle on the boards 22-14 and came up with 12 steals, with Andrew Norman getting four.
  "Rebounding and defense were huge," Peters said. "We did pretty well at the free throw line (13 of 21). That helps a whole lot, but one of the biggest keys was just helping each other on defense and winning the rebounding war."
  The Cyclones were sky-high emotionally not just because of that first victory, but since they will still be in action the final day of this 22nd annual prestigious tournament.
  "Anytime you've got a chance to play more, it just gives you an opportunity to get better," Hardin said. "Regardless of who we play on Friday, this is a great opportunity and the competition is always good. Good competition is going to make you better, so that was big."