BY IVAN SANDERS, Elizabethton Star
BLOUNTVILLE—The Sullivan Central Lady Cougars had been perfect during their Three River’s Conference season and were looking to run the gauntlet against the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones on Friday night inside the Dickie Warren Dome.
Elizabethton, however, had something to say about the Lady Cougars looking to accomplish the run and just like in the game Kerplunk, the Lady Cyclones made all the right moves and caused the Lady Cougars to topple on Senior Night, 61-56.
Normal start for Lady Cyclones
Elizabethton continued to start the game just as it has all season by allowing the Lady Cougars to build an 18-7 lead at the first stop of the game and then looked up to find themselves trailing 36-24.
Central was leaning heavily on their big junior post Abbey Crawford who owned the paint from four foot in scoring 18 points in the opening 16 minutes of play. Macy McClellan added 8 points as well for the Lady Cougars.
Elizabethton was kept in the game by Torrie Roberts who knocked down two treys and added 1-of-2 from the foul line for 7 points in the half. The Lady Cyclones also received five points each from McKendra Norris, Kaylen Shell, and Morgan Headrick.
Cassey Fowler accounted for the other 2 points for Elizabethton.
Competitive juices start flowing in the second half
The Lady Cyclones got a big lift when Crawford who was saddled with three fouls in the first half came off the bench and was whistled with number four after being in the game for less than a minute.
With their offensive star on the bench, the Lady Cyclones began slicing into the Lady Cougar lead little by little until they managed to cut the lead down to only three points, 52-49, with 3:35 left to play.
Even with Crawford back in the game, it was Elizabethton who was the aggressor and after Kaitlin Bailey, who just got her transfer clearance from Unicoi County to play for the Lady Cyclones, knocked down a trey to even the game, it was game on.
The Lady Cyclones were like a group of sharks on a feeding frenzy taking the game right to the Lady Cougars as Central had no answers with Shell knocking down 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Elizabethton was 16-of-19 from the charity stripe in the game with Headrick knocking down eight and Shell seven.
Game scoring recap
The Lady Cyclones (5-7, 6-19) saw three players reach double figures in the scoring column as Shell led the charge with 19 points while Headrick dumped in 14 points.
Roberts finished with 12 points.
Norris added five points and Bailey four points in a contributing role. Abbey Townsend swished home a trey for three points with two points each being scored by Fowler and Cheyenne VanHuss.
After scoring the 18 points in the first half, Crawford could only add 4 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 22 points for Central (11-1, 18-10). Peyton Sams added 13 for the Lady Cougars.
One pleased head coach
“We won’t feel at home if we aren’t down early,” said Lady Cyclone head coach Lucas Andrews. “We may not have should have been in that game the way we played in the first half, but we competed and took the game plan from the second-half adjustments and came out here and executed.
“We got their big in foul trouble and she had to sit and we took advantage of it because you have to take advantage of those situations and we did tonight.
We just kept grinding,” continued Andrews. “It wasn’t like we were able to cut that lead early in the third. It was in the middle of the fourth to late in the fourth. They just kept battling and I am extremely proud of the way they did it.”
Finishing up regular season
The Lady Cyclones will wrap up regular season on Saturday at home against Dobyns-Bennett. They secured the fifth seed with the win over Central for the upcoming district tournament to be played at Happy Valley.