Cyclones capture region championship
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 1, 2015
BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
BLUFF CITY – Elizabethton, looking for their first regional title since 2003, looked to run off and hide early. The Cyclones led 14-3 after one period and then weathered a furious Greeneville fourth quarter rally to post a 53-51 victory at Dyer Dome on Saturday night and take the region 1-AA championship.
Junior post Conley Bowers went down at 5:55 as he was felled by an accidental elbow and left the court, but returned quickly. Greeneville shot just 1-10 in the first period but were much better in the second period as they closed the gap to seven by the half.
Greeneville (18-14) ended the first half zero-for-nine from distance. The Greene Devils did not hit a three-point shot until the opening of the fourth period on a shot by Quan Harrison and the Devils finished 2-for-16 from beyond the arc.
With EHS leading 17-5, Greeneville went on a 10-2 run led by guard Takeem Young to make it a 19-17 game, but a deuce by Bowers and a trey from Austin Cornett made it a 22-17 game. The Cyclones ended the half with a 28-21 advantage with Tyler Nichols 10 points leading the way.
Takeem Young’s 12 points led all first half scorers and he was a big reason the Devils were able to stay in the game despite poor field goal shooting.
Nichols opened the third period with three layup buckets as EHS (23-10) grabbed a 34-21 advantage, but Young answered for the Devils. The Cyclones took their largest lead of the game to that point at 43-29 with 1:35 remaining in that stanza on a trey from Cornett.
Harrison connected on his second trey to open the fourth quarter and cut the EHS lead to 46-37 at the 6:55 mark. A three-point play from Harrison cut the EHS lead to 49-42 at the halfway mark of the period and a pair of free throws from Raheem Young made it a five point game at 49-44.
The Devils continued their 8-0 run with Raheem Young making back-to-back buckets to slice the EHS lead to 49-48 with 2:21 left in regulation. Bowers made two from the line to stem the Greeneville run and give Betsy a 51-48 advantage with1:32 showing on the clock.
“They have three good scorers in Quan, Raheem and Takeem,” Cyclones head coach Lucas Honey cutt said. “Those guys did a real good job defensively, and we did just enough to pull it out.
Nichols made one-of-two from the line, but Harrison answered for Greeneville with a driving layup with :22.5. Down the stretch EHS missed five consecutive free throws which could have clinched the contest.
Nichols finished with a game high 18 points and was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
“We missed some free throws and myself, I have to get in the gym and work on my free throw shooting,” Nichols said. “My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and I was able to see my lanes. I just kept attacking the lanes and the shots went down.”
In the fourth quarter the Cyclones shot just seven-for-17 at the charity stripe, but held on with tough defense and rebounding.
“It was ugly down the stretch, but we did enough to hang on for the win,” Honeycutt said. “We challenged them to believe that they could win, and could beat anybody. This is huge, you know the first year we didn’t win this game, but we came back and got a little redemption here. I don’t think they had an answer for Tyler early, but I could go down the list and name each and every one of these guys. They all contributed.”
Greeneville had one last desperation shot and Harrison put up a three that hit front rim where Alex Jones grabbed the biggest rebound of the contest.
“He had made two of them right in my face,” Jones said. “When he put that last one up I thought it was going in. I should have boxed him out but I turned and watched the ball come down right in my hands. I tried to run the clock out but wasn’t able to. It will be huge to play in front of the home crowd and hopefully get to state.”
Region 1-AA Championship
Dyer Dome @ Patriot Palace
Harrison 16, R.Young 16, T. Young 16, Burkey 1, Payne 2.
Green 1, Robinson 3, Nichols 18, Cornett 6, Pless 12, Bowers 11, Mushayamunda 2.
Greeneville 3 18 10 20 – 51
Elizabethton 14 14 18 7 – 53
3-point goals: G 2 (Harrison 2), E 3 (Cornett 2, Robinson 1, Pless 1)