GREENEVILLE — Playing an outside–in game on Monday night, the Elizabethton Cyclones were able to call the tune, and South Greene was unable to keep the pace in a non-conference match that may have regional overtones.
“We preach taking these games one at a time and always improving,” said EHS head coach Len Dugger. “Our plan tonight was to work on offensive execution and we really wanted to contest shots and control the boards. I thought for the most part that we did that.”
The Cyclones (18-6 overall) hit six three-point shots in the first period — two each by guard Justin Wandell and wing Aaron Miller and another by Alex Baughman — as EHS routed the Rebels 77-64.
Wandell hit four-of-six from distance and finished with a game-high 23 points as EHS opened with a 23-point first period and went on to a double digit 36-25 lead at halftime.
“It was definitely fun,” said Wandell. “When you see that first one go in, my teammates kept finding me. We were bigger than them on the inside and our guys draw a big crowd inside anyway, so if we can get shots from the outside to fall — then things open up for the guys inside.”
In the second period, junior post Michael Wagner got things rolling for the Cyclones in the paint with three buckets, helping EHS to its big lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Wandell continued his hot shooting as he nailed two more treys to go along with a 5-of-5 effort from the free-throw line as the Cyclones extended their lead to 59- 40 going into the final period.
EHS held on with solid free-throw shooting, finishing 26-of-34 (76.4 percent) from the line.
Junior wing Aaron Miller scored 15 points and had six rebounds while post Will Robinson had eight points and seven boards for Elizabethton and Zeke Clark ran the offense well and tallied seven points.
“I thought Zeke ran the offense very well tonight,” Dugger said. “Aaron Miller did a good job also and I think this is a confidence building game. But, for us it’s one game at a time and try to do our best in each one.
“We had a lot of kids get good minutes tonight, I thought we executed well and hit our shots on the perimeter.”
For South Greene (18-11) guard Daniel Tweed scored a team-high 18 points and was six-for-13 from beyond the arc and Logan Collins finished with 13 and led the Rebels with six rebounds.
The Lady Cyclones (18-9) fell behind early and could not overcome their early defensive lapses, and fell to the Lady Rebels.
“We knew they were fast and they got back well on defense,” Lady Cyclones head coach Mike Wilson said. “We got a little frustrated offensively and when we do sometimes we start reaching and grabbing on defense, which we can’t do. You have to be able to hold those kinds of things in check.
“I thought we should have put more pressure on them early on and press them more than we did in the first half, but with their speed I was a little afraid of doing that. I think if we have to play them again, we will start off by being more aggressive.”
Guard Maelyn Cutshaw had a game-high 24 points for South Greene (14-11) in a game that saw the Rebels build a 33-23 advantage at the break and hold off a late Cyclone charge.
Junior point guard Morgan Depew ran into foul trouble — being whistled for her fourth foul in the third period — and scored just three points in the second half before fouling out with 4:41 remaining.
The Cyclones dug a 48-32 hole by the end of the third period, but were able to cut the Rebel lead to 57-50 with a minute left.
A 3-pointer by Reazyn DeMoss sparked a Cyclone rally, and moments later forward Lauren McCurry buried another as EHS threatened what had been a relatively safe South Greene lead.
Javan Wilhoit hit two clutch free throws for South Greene to make it 59-50, and the Lady Cyclones turned the ball over on consecutive possessions to stall its comeback attempt.
DeMoss led the Lady Cyclones with 16 points with Depew scoring 11 before fouling out. McCurry chipped in with seven points.