BY GENE ROBERTS, Johnson City Press
ELIZABETHTON—The Lady Cyclones’ postseason spree continues.
Improving to 4-0 in tournament play, the Elizabethton girls basketball team won a Region 1-AA game for the first time since 2016 on Friday night with a 49-32 quarterfinal victory over Cumberland Gap at Treadway Gym.
With the outcome, Elizabethton (11-21) has a semifinal contest with Grainger on Monday at 6 p.m. at Happy Valley. The two teams met on Nov. 19 this season with Grainger winning, 70-48.
“We’ve got to play better half-court defense than we played tonight,” Elizabethton head coach Lucas Andrews said about plans for the rematch with Grainger. “We have to get back to how we played in the district with smothering defense, making sure we hold teams to one shot. We have to contest the three.”
Cumberland Gap struck first with a free throw, but Elizabethton posted the next seven points in the opening two minutes to seize control. The margin ballooned to 12-3 before Cumberland Gap tied things at 16 at the midpoint of the second quarter.
Elizabethton answered with an 8-0 run to swing momentum back. Kaitlin Bailey helped with nine of her 16 points in the first half. Morgan Headrick also struck with seven first-half points en route to 11 for the game.
“We finally decided to wake up,” Andrews said. “You probably can say it was first-game jitters in the region. There are a lot of things you can say, but we were able to settle down in the second half and get back to what we were doing, rebounding and playing better defense — which let us push it ahead.”
The third quarter was all Lady Cyclones as the home team extended its advantage to 42-23 with a Kaylen Shell layup before the buzzer. Shell paced everyone with 18 points.
Cumberland Gap’s season ends at 8-17. The road team was led by Kylie Fultz with 10 points off the bench as Tabitha Ray and Hannah Heath both had seven points in their last high school contest.
Elizabethton 49, Cumberland Gap 32
1-AA girls quarterfinals
CUMBERLAND GAP (32)
Kylie Fultz 10, Heath 7, Ray 7, Hinkley 5, Ausmus 3.
Shell 18, Bailey 16, Headrick 11, Roberts 4.
Cumberland Gap 9 7 7 9 — 32
Elizabethton 15 9 18 7 — 49
3-point goals—Cumberland Gap 3 (Ray, Ausmus, Heath), Elizabethton 3 (Shell 3).