BY DOUGLAS FRITZ, Johnson City Press
ELIZABETHTON — It has been an impressive season for Elizabethton, and beating Science Hill added something a little extra to the mix.
“It’s Science Hill,” said Cyclones’ head coach Lucas Honeycutt after his team’s 57-52 win at Treadway Gymnasium on Friday night. “It has been said they aren’t up to their normal standards, but when it comes to the end of the season I think they’re going to be back near the top of their conference again.
“It’s a huge win for us. We’re not scared and we didn’t back down. In big moments, the kids stepped up.”
Elizabethton improved to 12-3 while the Hilltoppers slipped to 10-10.
Elizabethton owned the first quarter, taking a 19-10 lead. But Science Hill locked the Cyclones down in the second. Elizabethton went nearly six minutes without scoring, finished the period with only two points, and entered halftime with 23-21 deficit.
In the third quarter, it was back and forth with the teams trading halfcourt-set baskets. Elizabethton led 36-34.
Science Hill held two three-point leads in the fourth quarter. But Elizabethton made key buckets, grabbed clutch rebounds, and knocked down free throws — especially Eric Wilson — in the final minutes. Wilson was 5 of 6 from the foul line in the final two minutes, and finished the game with 14 points.
“I don’t take anything away from Elizabethton,” said Science Hill head coach Ken Cutlip. “They played great. I think down the stretch, they took care of the basketball. They made free throws and we didn’t. We missed two big ones, and we turned the ball over late with the lead two possessions in a row.”
Nico Ashley scored in every quarter and led the Cyclones with 16 points. He said the win was a sweet one.
“It feels great,” said Ashley. “The coaches did a really good job of getting us ready, and all of the players played really well.”
Evan Perkins hit a trio of treys to finish with nine points for the Cyclones.
SCIENCE HILL LEADERS
Will Stevens paced the Hilltoppers with 13 points. Hunter Phillips added eight points and 11 rebounds. Andrew Miller added nine points.