BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN, Johnson City Press
ELIZABETHTON—Prior to postseason play, Elizabethton had produced only seven victories. Win number eight vaulted the Lady Cyclones to a berth in the regional tournament.
On Thursday night, ’Betsy registered a 51-30 District 1-AA conquest of Happy Valley to advance to Saturday for a semifinal contest with top seed Sullivan Central.
“This was huge for this team,” Lady Cyclones head coach Lucas Andrews said. “This game was like the story of our season. It was a grind the whole way, but this time in the end we hit our stride and pulled it out.”
The Cyclones (8-21) held a modest 22-17 halftime lead that the Lady Warriors cut to 29-26 by the end of the third period. A three-point play by senior guard Adrienne Henegar gave the Warriors a 26-25 lead with 1:14 left in the third period, but Kaylen Shell hit a deuce and transfer student Kaitlyn Bailey also had a bucket.
In the fourth quarter, the Cyclones opened with a 18-2 run with guard Torrie Roberts hitting back-to-back 3-pointers as Elizabethton built a 47-28 lead with 2:13 remaining.
A free throw from Henegar ended the Cyclones’ run, but the damage had been done. Roberts scored 14 fourth-quarter points after being held scoreless the first three periods. Shell and Bailey each had 14 points along with Roberts while Henegar's 14 points led Happy Valley.
“Our main goal is to rebound and to shut down Adrienne Henegar and we did that. We also wanted to shut down Shalyn Whitson and we did that,” Shell said. “Turnovers have been one of our biggest struggles this year, but we held on to the ball. Torrie handles the ball real well.”
Unicoi County 58, Johnson County 50
One night after toppling Sullivan East 64-60 in the play-in game, Johnson County (13-15) faced off with third-seeded Unicoi County. The Lady Longhorns played hard but a strong second-half push enabled the Lady Blue Devils to get the job done.
“It's win or go home, so we aren't overlooking anyone,” Lady Devils head coach Kerri King said. “We split with them in the regular season, so we knew it would be tough. In the first half we stood around a lot offensively, but Ashton (Vance) pushed the pace for us. Now that we have this game we can start prepping for Sullivan South.”
Johnson County played tight defense and held Unicoi County (16-10) to just five second-quarter points and raced to a 27-24 halftime advantage. The Lady Devils’ Caroline Podvin led all first-half scorers with 10 points while Sadie Stout and Taylor Cox each had nine for Johnson County.
The Lady Devils outscored the Lady Longhorns 17-11 in the third period to take a 41-38 lead into the fourth quarter. Stout hit a trey for the 'Horns to open the period, but Chloe Powers hit two in a row for a 47-43 Devils lead.
Kaylee Hendrickson's 3-ball gave Unicoi County a 52-43 advantage at the 4:01 mark of regulation. Stout led all scorers with 23 points while Podvin's 15 topped Unicoi County.