BY DOUGLAS FRITZ, Johnson City Press
ELIZABETHTON — Unicoi County had Elizabethton’s attention with its recent run of success, and the Cyclones also had a reminder of last year’s finish.
“A lot of our kids were on the floor last year in the last game of the season when they put us out,” said Cyclones’ head coach Lucas Honeycutt. “They put us out in a pretty bad fashion for us. They handed it to us. We reminded the kids of that, and I think they got up and got ready to play.”
The Blue Devils hung around and made a game of it, but the Cyclones pulled away for a 55-38 win in the semifinals of the District 1-AA basketball tournament at Bayless Gym on Saturday.
Elizabethton improved to 21-6 and moved into Tuesday’s championship game against Sullivan South at 7:30 p.m. The Rebels knocked off top-seeded Johnson County, 58-50. The Cyclones and South also earned home-court advantage for Saturday’s region quarterfinal contest.
Despite a 9-22 record, Unicoi County had won five of its previous six games. The Blue Devils will travel for the region quarterfinals, and will play Johnson County for third place on Tuesday at 6.
PERKINS FOR THREE
Evan Perkins scored only from 3-point land, but he did it often enough to make a big difference. He finished with five treys for his 15 points.
“They were playing zone and we were getting a lot of kick outs and good open shots,” Perkins said.
Honeycutt said Perkins’ teammates helped him out.
“We did a great job of finding him and he just slid into spots,” said Honeycutt. “He has shot it with confidence all year, and he made some really big shots for us. He had a great night, both offensively and defensively.”
The Cyclones led 18-10 after the first quarter, but the Blue Devils wouldn’t go away. By halftime it was still an eight-point game at 34-26.
And even though Elizabethton carried a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, 43-32, Unicoi was still on the fringe of striking distance.
Bryson Rollins hit a pair of Elizabethton’s eight treys and finished with 10 points. Eric Wilson chipped in with nine points.
Honeycutt said he was pleased with his team’s defensive effort against Unicoi standout Brock Thompson, who was limited to five points.
“We did a great job of holding him to five points,” said Honeycutt. “The last two games he was averaging 25 or so. He’s a great player. We were fortunate to stay with him.”
Gavin Casey paced Unicoi’s attack with 11 points. Danny Lowery added nine.
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Elizabethton 55, UC 38
UNICOI COUNTY (9-22)
Thelen 3, Thompson 5, Casey 11, Lingerfelt 6, Holt 1, Adkins 3, Lowery 9.
Rollins 10, Hughes 8, Perkins 15, Wilson 9, Ashley 3, Montgomery 8, Everett 2.
Unicoi County 10 16 6 6 — 38
Elizabethton 18 16 9 12 — 55
3-point goals — Unicoi 5 (Lingerfelt 2, Thelen, Thompson, Adkins), Elizabethton 8 (Perkins 5, Rollins 2, Wilson).