Betsy Varsity takes two from the Hilltoppers

Published 8:53 am Monday, January 16, 2023

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By Ron Marvel
Star Correspondent
The Elizabethton Cyclones would host rival Science Hill in a Saturday night game featuring both the girl’s and boy’s teams. The girl’s squad was looking to keep their momentum going as they build to what they hope will be a long playoff run, while the boys were needing a win to get off of a two-game slide after two losses to Volunteer and Unicoi County.
Girls- Elizabethton 54 Science Hill 29
The girls flexed their muscles Saturday night as they left the Hilltoppers defense in chase mode most of the night. Reiley Whitson got the Cyclones on the board after a sweet assist from point guard Lina Lyon; Lyon would follow up with one of her patented floaters. As would be the case all night, the Lady Cyclones would do an excellent job filling the Hilltoppers passing lanes. Katie Lee would hit her second free throw to extend the early to 12-8; Renna Lane would snatch the offensive rebound on the next possession to push the lead to 14-8 to end the first period.
The second period would start with Lina “Lightening’ Lyon hitting a 14-foot jumper to push the lead to eight, Lane would then hit a three-pointer on the left side of the perimeter to keep the lead at eight. The Lady Hilltoppers would close the lead down after back-to-back shots by Kierra Whitney, but the Lady Cyclones resolve would answer with a Whitson three-pointer sending the Lady Cyclones into the locker room up 29-20.
Simply put, Lina Lyon came out of the locker room determined to put this game away quickly. She would score 12 of her 24 in the third period; if she wasn’t hitting shots, she’s making steals and assists. Lyon would find Senior Katie Lee under the basket for one of those assists, pushing the lead to 35-22. Lee would put in her typical yeoman’s work grabbing rebounds and making sure the Hilltoppers found no peace in the paint. 6’1” Center Marlee Mathena would get in on the action hitting a seven-foot jumper to push the lead to 17 at the 4:14 mark of the third. Katie Lee would hit another short jumper at the 2:12 mark of the third period and Lina Lyon would close the period out in much the same way she started it with a steal and a layup to push the lead to 20 at 49-29.
The Cyclones would not allow a point in the final period and then go to the stall game to eat away the final minutes. Mathena would hit a jumper to make the score 52-29 and then Lyon would hit a couple of free throws to put the score at its final 54-29. That Cyclones stall game would milk the last 2:30 of the game off the clock, and though some may think it was boring, if you know the game, you would say it was masterful.
The evening’s result was even more meaningful due to the fact that the Lady Cyclones did this without starting shooting guard Olivia Holly who was out with a mild sprained ankle;  the hope is that she will be back this week. Lyon led all scorers with 25, while Reiley Whitson chipped in ten. Lyon talked about her team’s defensive efforts on the night “our player shut down their best players; we felt like we had to run tonight and take advantage of our speed.” Coach Andrews talked about his team’s growth during the season “we talk about being a mature team and cleaning up mistakes; we are starting to look like a team that is capable of making a run.”
Boys- Elizabethton 48 Hilltoppers 43
In a game that was a defensive struggle, it was also a game that saw both teams having issues with ball security. The Cyclones were able to hit shots down the stretch when they mattered the most. The Hilltoppers got out to an early lead, but Nate Stephens would check up in the paint and hit a short jumper to make the score 8-5 at the end of the first period. Dalton Mitchell would hit a three-pointer at the 2:28 mark of the second period to make it a one-point Hilltopper game at 14-13. Mason ball would bank home a short turnaround jumper to take a one-point lead at 15-13 with 1:42 left in the half. Dalton Mitchell would hit two free-throws to extend the lead to 17-13 heading into the break.
The Cyclones would start the third period off with a running layup by Will Churchill to push the lead to six at the 6:49 mark of the period. Mason Ball would then hit another jumper to keep the Hilltoppers from closing the lead, making it 22-16 at the 5:58 mark. The Hilltoppers would close it to a one-point game after a Mason Ball technical foul and then take the lead at 22-21 after Hilltopper Brady Lawson hit a long jumper.
The Hilltoppers would keep a small lead for a good part of the third period. Jackson Hobbs would start a 9-2 Cyclones run with a steal and bucket and then both Hobbs and Mitchell would hit three-pointers to push the Cyclones lead to six at 33-27 to end the third period.
The final period would see Hobbs score off an offensive rebound pushing the Cyclones lead to eight. The Cyclones would finally put an end to any Hilltoppers rally hitting a Nate Stephens three-pointer at the :59-second mark and push the lead to 11. The Hilltoppers would hit a three-pointer in the final seconds to close that lead to five. The Cyclones improved to 7-9 on the season. Dalton Mitchell and Mason Ball both finished with 12, while Jackson Hobbs chipped in ten and Bradley Lawson had 14 points for the Hilltoppers; both teams shot around 40 percent for the evening.
Both Cyclones teams will travel to Bristol to take on the Vikings Tuesday night.

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