District 1 3-A Boys Basketball Tournament… Cyclones stun top-seeded Volunteer in District 1 3-A tourney

Published 12:35 am Sunday, February 20, 2022

BY BRANDON HYDE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
CHURCH HILL – It was the one that almost got away as the Elizabethton Cyclones narrowly edged the Volunteer Falcons in the closing minutes of the District 1 3-A boy’s tournament semi-finals.
Just like on Friday night, the Cyclones got off to a fast start and took a commanding lead early on, but the Falcons came alive in the second half and gave Elizabethton a run for their money.
Early in the first period, Bryce VanHuss was up to his old tricks as he and Seth Carter hit a couple of threes to get the party started.  This along with another inside basket and foul on a shot from Bryson Rollins put Elizabethton up 9-0 as Rollins went 1-of-2 at the line.
The Falcons responded with a rally that would bring them within four, but another late three-pointer in the period by Carter and other scoring would end the period with the Cyclones up 20-12.
Jake Roberts followed suit and started the second period out with back-to-back three-pointers forcing the Falcons to call a timeout and regroup.  Once again it looked as if the Falcons were going to rally, but then Elizabethton started to put on a show with a combination of excellent passes from Roberts to Carter to Mason Ball for two points.
This combo was repeated by Roberts and Carter, only this time the end recipient was Nicholas Wilson who electrified the crowd with a slam dunk. The Elizabethton defense was on point and kept the Falcons at bay all throughout the first half.
In addition, excellent ball movement and shooting kept the Cyclones up by 12 late in the period.  However, a couple of turnovers and a small rally by the Falcons culminating with a three-point buzzer-beater brought the Falcons to within nine points as Elizabethton led 40-31 at the half.
The beginning of the second half saw Roberts score on back-to-back pull-up jumpers, quickly adding four more to the Elizabethton lead. Roberts would have a strong third period with 8 points. Poor rebounding gave the Falcons headaches as it looked like Elizabethton was going to start to run away with the game.  However, a couple of three-pointers and additional scoring brought Volunteer back to within 9 points.
Elizabethton started to lose a little of their mojo towards the end of the third period.  There just wasn’t the same ball movement and crisp shooting that earmarked the first half.
This allowed the Falcons to pull within six and after an inbound turnover and conversion by the Falcons, the period ended with the Cyclones nursing a four-point lead.
Rollins started the fourth period with a shot and foul.  After hitting both, the Cyclones had a little breathing room.  Rollins would continue to be the catalyst for what seemed like another Cyclone run, but rebounds that once fell Elizabethton’s way were now finding their way to the Falcons.
A nice turnaround jumper by Jon Wes Lovelace of the Falcons would bring them back within five before a timeout.  A subsequent short jumper by the Falcons Garrison Barrett with 3:30 to go added another two.
On the next Elizabethton possession, VanHuss hit another crucial three once again giving the Cyclones some breathing room.  After a bit of a controversial non-call on Rollins, a jump ball would give it back to the Falcons but Jake Roberts would steal the basketball and bring it back down court.
A travel call on Roberts resulted in no points keeping the Falcons within four points coming up on two minutes.
The game would be at its closest as Elizabethton would double team going for a steal. This would allow the Falcons Barrett to sneak under the basket for an easy score, making it a two-point game.
However a turnover by Falcon’s Bradin Minton, Jr. put the ball back in Elizabethton’s hands. The Cyclones did a good job of playing keep away, eating valuable time, and forcing the Falcons to foul, sending Wilson to the line with 43 seconds to go.  Wilson hit both crucial free throws making it a four- point game.
After a nice acting job, leaning into the shot, the Falcons Minton would be sent to the line, giving Volunteer some hope.  Their hope would be dashed as Minton couldn’t sink either shot, keeping it a four-point game.  Elizabethton would hang on to win in a thriller as time simply ran out on the Falcons as they fell to the Cyclones 74-70.
Roberts and Carter would lead the charge with Roberts netting 20 and Carter 14 points along with 12 apiece for Rollins and VanHuss.
Elizabethton, 74-70
Elizabethton (74)
Jake Roberts 20, Bryson Rollins 12, Seth Carter 14, Bryce VanHuss 12, Dalton Mitchell 4, Nick Wilson 8, Mason Ball 4.
Volunteer (70)
Bradin Minton 6, Heath Miller 15, Joltin Harrison 15, Andrew Knittle 2, Elijah Rogers 6, Jon Wes Lovelace 14, Garrison Barrett 9, Cason Christian 3.
Elizabethton…….20  20  19  15 – 74
Volunteer………..12  19  24  15 – 70

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