Region 1-AA Girls Championship Elizabethton 50   Grainger Co. 40 Lady Cyclones stun Grainger taking the regional championship

Published 12:09 am Friday, March 6, 2020




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RUTLEDGE – Maybe when you are a team like the Grainger County Lady Grizzlies who came into the Girls Region 1-AA Championship showdown with Elizabethton on Wednesday night sporting a 31-2 record and playing on your home court, you kind of expect that victory is pretty much in hand.

However, the one thing that seemed to be overlooked was an Elizabethton program that has been fighting to get back to the level of previous years teams that have played on a higher plane.

That oversight proved deadly as the Lady Cyclones (23-10) built a 19-point lead at one point of the first half and then sealed the win at the foul line as time wound down to send the Lady Cyclones and their fans into a celebration overload.

“Somebody said we shot 7-of-10 from behind the three-point line in the first half and I don’t know if that’s off or not but we came out laser-focused and shot the ball well,” said Lady Cyclone head coach Lucas Andrews.

“They (Grainger Co.) are ranked three in the state and they are the real deal and I have been worried about them for months if I could just get to them and just kudos to the kids.”

After a low-scoring first period where ‘Betsy took a 9-4 lead, the Lady Cyclones shifted to overdrive in the second stanza outscoring the Lady Grizzlies 21-12 to take a 30-16 lead to the locker room.

All-tournament selection Kaylen Shell led the way in the half hitting for nine points including two treys and a 3-of-4 performance from the foul line.

Tournament MVP Morgan Headrick knocked down eight points including a pair of treys in the opening 16 minutes.

Torrie Roberts came off the bench and peppered the nets with two long-range three balls for six in the half.

Freshman Lina Lyon, also an All-Tourney selection, added a trey while Kelsie Winters and senior All-Tourney team Kaitlin Bailey added two points apiece.

The Lady Cyclones hit a lull in the third period scoring-wise and much of that had to do with a full-court press that seemed to perplex the Lady Cyclones as several turnovers allowed the Lady Grizzlies back into the game heading into the final period trailing only 36-29.

Andrews finally was able to get his team into the press offense that allowed his squad to settle as Elizabethton used the dazzling ball-handling skills of Lyon to break the press and Elizabethton outscored Grainger Co. 14-11 in the final period to take the huge win.

“This win was huge for us,” stated MVP Headrick. “It gave us confidence and I think we are ready to go.

“We have been playing good. Heading into the locker room after the first half we were excited and not nervous. We just said that we needed to execute like we did in the first half.

“We did get just a little nervous in the second half just because they got into the press,” continued Headrick. “But we just stuck through and made it.”

Headrick led the Lady Cyclones with a team-high 14 points while Shell was nipping on her heels with 13.

Lyon and Roberts finished with eight points apiece with Kaitlin Bailey contributing five and Kelsie Winters finishing with two points.

The Lady Cyclones shot 8-of-12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

Tori Rutherford led the Lady Grizzlies with a game-high 17 points. Lauren Longmire added eight points while Matty Tanner dropped in seven.

“I was a little stressed out about it there in the third quarter but then KB (Kaitlin Bailey) hit the lay up and then we all started to get going,” said Lyon about the press Grainger Co. threw on Elizabethton in the third period.

“Our defense started playing better as well. I feel like it was huge being able to get the ball up the court for me to help out.”

The Lady Cyclones earned a sectional game at John Treadway Gym on Saturday night as they will play host to Gatlinburg-Pittman who was defeated by Carter, 63-61 in the Region 2-AA Girls Championship.

Game time will be 7 pm and Coach Andrews is requesting for Cyclone Nation to come out in full force decked out in all black for the contest.

Grainger Co. travels to Carter on Saturday also for a 7 pm tipoff. Winners advance to the TSSAA State Championship next week at Middle Tennessee State University beginning on Wednesday and running through Saturday.

EHS athletic director Forrest Holt announced that tickets for Saturday night’s contest will go on sale Friday at 9:30 am in the Athletic Office. Ticket prices for the contest are $7 each per TSSAA Sectional contest.

Doors will open at 5:30 pm for Saturday’s game.