Region 1-AA Championship: Cyclones rise to the occasion taking down Greeneville for Region 1-AA championship

Published 9:41 pm Thursday, March 3, 2016

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RUTLEDGE—Coming into the Region 1-AA final, Elizabethton and Greeneville knew they wouldn’t walk away from Grainger High School on Thursday night as a loser because each had secured at least one more game in the upcoming sectional.

However, a home game would be worth its weight in gold having to avoid a potential matchup with Knox Fulton on the road.

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The Cyclones came out and built an early lead and was able to maintain it throughout the contest to take a 62-54 win for the second consecutive season in a row over the Green Devils and snare a home sectional contest against Christian Academy of Knoxville on Monday night.

“You go back to that district tournament, you know the kids didn’t play like they could, or did the things we talked about and focused on,” said Cyclone head coach Lucas Honeycutt. “They did a complete 180 degree turnaround from there and started to listen.

“We had some good practices and some good game plans and the kids really followed them and listened to what we were doing. Tonight, there was great effort on the boards and boxing out for the most part,” added Honeycutt. “It was just great intensity all night by our kids and when they came at us—and we knew that they would because Greeneville is a good, gritty bunch and our kids endured.”

Tournament most valuable player Michael Robinson set the tone early as he scored 12 of the 26 points scored in the first half for the Cyclones (20-12) to build a 26-18 lead at the break.

Bo Pless and Jalen Smith scored six and four points respectively to contribute to the Cyclones lead.

Nic Lollar was painting the cotton for seven points to show the way for the Green Devils (17-12) in the half.

Greeneville emerged from the locker room and established a little momentum with a full-court press which at times forced the Cyclones into some untimely turnovers as the Green Devils trimmed the advantage down to 35-32 with eight minutes to play.

Pless scored five in the third period while Eric Wilson dropped in four on easy layup buckets that resulted from Green Devil breakdowns on the press.

Takeem Young picked up Greeneville in the third by scoring seven in the stanza. Thomas Burkey worked the paint for four.

Elizabethton had to utilize a couple of quick timeouts in the early part of the fourth quarter and found their bearing as Robinson propelled the Cyclones to the victory with 13 points in the final eight minutes.

“To come in here and beat Grainger which was a great team and then come in here and beat Greeneville who is one heck of a team is a really good feeling,” said Robinson. “We get a home sectional game which is fantastic. It is so special, and I don’t know who we are going to play, but it’s going to be a special night.”

The Cyclones also received an outstanding performance from Alex Norwood who netted eight in the crucial final period of play.

“We came out of the district with a four seed so we knew we had to come in and work hard to win,” stated Norwood. “We knew we could do it, it was just a matter of confidence. We played really well together and got the win. We got a little out of control when they made that run, but we just pulled ourselves back to together.”

Robinson closed out the contest with 25 points to lead all scorers while Pless and Norwood finished in double figures with 13 and 10.

“We have kind of had the underdog mentality all tournament season, especially coming into the region as a four-seed,” said senior post Pless. “We felt like that is where we play our best, so to come into another hostile environment tonight and play another great team and battle for four quarters was a total team effort.

“The sectional is a huge energy game, and we wanted to get back into our home gym for another home game so that will be a special game.”

Wilson tallied eight as the freshman continued to impress.

Lollar paced the Green Devils with 17 points while Takeem Young closed out with 16. Raheem Young registered 11 while Burkey closed out with 10.

The Green Devils hit the road on Monday to tangle with Fulton (28-2), a 75-62 winner over CAK.

The win gave the Cyclones their fifth straight 20-win season and Coach Lucas Honeycutt became the first coach with four consecutive 20-win seasons.

**Sectional Note— Saturday night’s sectional game between the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones and Gatlinburg-Pittman tips off at 7 p.m. inside John Treadway Gym. The gates will open at 5 pm and general admission tickets are $7 each. By TSSAA rules, there will be no reserved seating for the contest so seating will be first come, first served. Also, the same scenario applies to the boys’ sectional game against CAK on Monday also at 7 pm.


Region 1-AA Boys Finals

Elizabethton, 62-54

Elizabethton (62)

Michael Robinson 25, Teve Mushayamunda 2, Jalen Smith 4, Eric Wilson 8, Alex Norwood 10, Bo Pless 13.

Greeneville (54)

Nic Lollar 17, Raheem Young 11, Takeem Young 16, Thomas Burkey 10.

Elizabethton……16   10     9   27 – 62

Greeneville..……  7   11   14   22 – 54

3-PT GOALS: Elizabethton 3 (Michael Robinson 2, Bo Pless). Greeneville 6 (Nic Lollar 2, Takeem Young 4).