By Rick Sheek
Elizabethton’s basketball team continues to impress.
Photo by Danny Davis - Elizabethton’s Will Robinson reaches high for a rebound, which eludes Hampton’s Wesley Murray.
The Cyclones built a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter before holding off Hampton 72-64 in Tuesday night’s non-conference basketball game at Treadway Gymnasium.
“You have to give Hampton some credit,” Elizabethton coach Len Dugger said. “Anytime Hampton plays Elizabethton, you’re going to get a better game. They’re going to rise to the top a little bit, they’re going to be more competitive and they never did quit.”
The Bulldogs (12-12) pulled within eight in the final minute.
“Elizabethton’s good,” Hampton coach Ned Smith said. “They’re probably one of the best 2A teams around, and play really well together. They shoot the ball well and play good defense, crash the boards and are a good physical team. Elizabethton played real well.”
Aaron Miller paced the Cyclones (17-6) with 21 points and nine rebounds. Justin Wandell added 18 points and four steals.
“I thought we did some good things,” Dugger said. “There in the third quarter, and the first part of the fourth quarter, we got to where we were moving the ball and getting the ball inside. We got some buckets, and I thought we started defending better.”
Hampton’s towering Wesley Murray cut loose for 20 points, shooting 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
“We talked to Wes,” Smith said. “We lost Lane (Smith), we’ve got to step up and we’ve got to shoot. You’ve got to shoot it — just feel confident and shoot it.
“Wes played really well tonight. I’m proud of him.”
A Murray 3-pointer and bucket from Tyler Trusler pulled the Bulldogs within 49-45 late in the third quarter. Justin Wandell nailed his second 3-pointer of the period and the Cyclones enjoyed a 52-45 advantage heading in the fourth.
Talk about a flurry. Elizabethton then took over with the hot shooting hand and smothering defense on the perimeter.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Cyclones were rolling 67-50. Miller tossed in seven points that period, 16 after the break, and Nikolai Simpson scored six in the fourth.
Hampton freshman Cheyenne Camillo came off the bench to hit six points in the final quarter.
“I thought our guys didn’t quit,” Smith said. “We got down there, but we kept battling back. The kids just fought hard until the end, and I was proud of them for that.”
Tyler Trusler’s put-back trimmed the deficit to 68-60 with 49.0 seconds to go.
Hampton got 18 points from Trusler. Cody McClain totaled 12 points and six steals.
Camillo hit eight points and made three steals. Murray got two steals.
The Bulldogs were 13 of 18 at the foul line. Elizabethton was 11 of 14.
The Cyclones’ Will Robinson totaled 12 points and eight rebounds. Alex Baughman contributed seven points and two steals.
Zach Norwood and Simpson scored six each.
“You’ve got two guys that we were really trying to stop in Murray and McClain,” Dugger said. “We put a lot of focus on those two, and then they had some other guys get some buckets there.”
Elizabethton won the junior varsity game 58-50.
The Lady Cyclones (17-8) elevated their play down the stretch, denying the upset bid.
Photo by Danny Davis - The Lady Cyclones’ Caley Hodge leans across the baseline as she prepares to deliver a pass.
Hampton (16-9) was within one point early in the fourth quarter, but Elizabethton went 8 of 10 at the line in that period to seal the outcome.
Photo by Danny Davis - Hampton’s Danielle Guinn aims to push the ball up the floor as Lauren McCurry of the Lady Cyclones defends.
“They guarded us tough,” Elizabethton coach Mike Wilson said. “They did a great job on the defensive end. They really did, and I thought our kids did great.”
Dorothy Dugger tossed in all 11 of the Bulldogs’ points in the fourth.
“From an effort standpoint, we played great,” Hampton coach Leon Tolley said. “Probably the worst offensive game we’ve had all year. Now their defense had a lot to do with it, but we also had a lot of shots — open looks that we didn’t make.”
Dugger hit a game-high 16 points, draining a pair of 3-pointers. Paige Dugger added nine points and five steals.
Hampton’s Paige Montgomery hauled in 13 boards. Danielle Guinn made four steals.
The Bulldogs were 3 of 4 on free throws. Elizabethton went 9 of 12 and controlled the glass 41-32.
“The bottom line is, when you get against a good team later in the year you can’t take any plays off,” Tolley said. “You’ve got to capitalize. It’s very disappointing tonight, because I thought we were ready to play.”
Lauren McCurry paced the Cyclones with 13 points. Whitney Roberts added nine with 13 rebounds.
Reazyn DeMoss and Morgan Depew scored eight apiece. Depew came up with four steals and Abbi Pierce made two.
Savannah Madgett hauled in 11 boards.
Hampton led 9-6 in the first quarter after a pair of baskets from Paige Dugger. McCurry nailed a 3-pointer and Roberts’ put-back gave the Cyclones an 11-9 advantage heading in the second.
Caley Hodge pushed the lead to four to open that period. Montgomery later scored and Paige Dugger converted off a steal to spur Hampton ahead 17-16.
Another Hodge bucket, followed by DeMoss scoring off a steal and Elizabethton was back out front 20-17. The Bulldogs’ Alexis Bowers hit a 3-pointer to tie the affair at 20-all at intermission.
Paige Dugger’s 3-pointer saw Hampton up 23-20. The Cyclones surged ahead by six, before Dorothy Dugger’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 29-26 through three periods.
Duggers’ two buckets to open the the fourth pulled Hampton within 31-30. Spurred by a DeMoss 3-pointer, Elizabethton quickly opened up the gap to eight.
With 35.7 seconds remaining, a Dugger 3-pointer cut it to 42-37.
“That was the ugliest defensive game,” Wilson said. “There was nothing pretty with what happened out there. It was ugly, but that’s just two teams guarding each other.”
Hampton prevailed in the JV contest 49-41.