BY GENE RENFRO, Johnson City Press
KINGSPORT — Elizabethton was definitely down, but the Cyclones blew back for a 58-54 basketball win at Sullivan South on Friday night.
The win kept Elizabethton atop the Three Rivers Conference race at 4-0 with an overall mark of 10-3. Meanwhile the Rebels’ record went to 14-6 overall and 1-2 against conference foes.
“The message to the guys at halftime was we can’t give up. We have to keep playing and claw our way back into it,” Elizabethton head coach Lucas Honeycutt said about the comeback. “The third quarter I felt like we settled down and although they were still scoring to keep the lead, we were just chipping away. We got to the fourth quarter and felt like we were in striking distance. The guys just got it done, they made plays.”
Cyclones’ second-half rally
Sullivan South built a 45-27 advantage in the third quarter after enjoying the lead most of the game. Elizabethton responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Eric Wilson after loose balls. That started the comeback.
Elizabethton chipped away and freshman Bryson Rollins helped put the visitors over the top. His lay up with 2:55 remaining put the Cyclones up 49-48.
“We played great for three and a half quarters,” said Sullivan South head coach Michael McMeans. “We let that momentum shift kill us. We let it get in our head instead of keep going and playing. We let get to it too much. We can’t do that.”
The teams traded baskets until Rollins struck again with 87 seconds to go. He was also fouled by Ben Diamond, who fouled out at that point — and the three-point play gave the Cyclones a 54-52 lead.
Rollins had 14 points with seven coming in the final quarter.
A series of free throws from Evan Perkins and Wilson put the game away. Wilson led the Cyclones with 15 points, all in the second half. His only two field goals were long-range makes as he went 9 for 13 at the free-throw line. Perkins also reached double-digits with 10 points as eight were in the fourth.
South builds lead
The Rebels gave the home fans plenty to cheer for early. Diamond scored eight of his team-best 15 points in the opening quarter as Sullivan South led 21-15 after eight minutes.
Chase Bowery added half of his 12 points in the first quarter as well.
“We didn’t seem to get anything going in the first half,” Honeycutt said. “They came out strong, which is what they have done the last couple of games we’ve seen. We knew they were going to have a first-quarter run.”
Sullivan South 53, Elizabethton 43
The Lady Rebels broke through in Three Rivers play for their first league win of the season.
Sullivan South rallied in the second and third quarters to take and build the advantage. After a scoreless first quarter for Mollie Leslie, she scored 10 of her 13 points in the second and third quarters.
That helped Sullivan South, which trailed 15-13 after a quarter, establish a 44-29 lead going to the final eight minutes. The Lady Rebels were paced by Alex Harris with 14 points, which included three makes behind the arc.
Elizabethton got 17 points from Kaylen Shell and 14 more from Morgan Headrick. Shell was balanced with eight points in the first half, including six in the first quarter.
The Lady Rebels went to 10-8 overall and 1-2 in the league while Elizabethton left at 2-9 and 1-3.