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Lady Cyclones struggle, but reach 1-AA title game

Douglas Fritz • Feb 24, 2014 at 11:07 PM

GREENEVILLE — Style points were hard to come by for Elizabethton's girls.

But at this time of year, what matters most is the W.

The Lady Cyclones battled through foul trouble, poor shooting and some sloppy play to earn a 56-42 victory over Sullivan South in the semifinals of the Region 1-AA basketball tournament Monday night at Hal Henard Gym.

Elizabethton, ranked No. 3 in the state, improved to 27-3 and will take on top-ranked Grainger in Wednesday's championship at 7 p.m. The Lady Grizzlies (28-4) defeated Sullivan East, 81-48.

Junior post Sarah Robinson was a big factor throughout the game for Elizabethton, and it was much needed. Not only did Kelci Marosites miss most of the first half with foul trouble, but also Kayla Marosites struggled to find a rhythm against South's hard-working defense.

Robinson said she just fed off of her teammates.

“My teammates make such good passes, it helps me and gives me a lane to drive,” said Robinson, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals. “It gives me confidence, and makes me more offensive minded.”

For a Twitter video interview with Robinson, follow Douglas Fritz @FritzBlitzzz.

Lady Cyclones' head coach Len Dugger said South did a good job of limiting the Marosites twins, which opened the door for Robinson.

“I've been talking to her the last three weeks, and saying, 'You don't realize how good you can really be,' ” said Dugger. “She hasn't scratched the surface.”

Kayla Marosites eventually worked her way to 14 points and nine rebounds.

The third quarter was the turning point of the game. Leading by 10 points, the Cyclones came out of their fullcourt press, and settled into a tough halfcourt man. They outscored South 10-2 in the third quarter.

“I thought we would give it a look,” said Dugger. “Holding them to two points in the third quarter, that was huge.”

South kept battling in the fourth quarter, and the kitchen-sink defensive approach really helped the Lady Rebels stay much closer than two previous blowouts.

“I'm very proud of the girls,” said South head coach Tori Haile. “We threw a lot at them the past couple of days, and they did it all.”

Free-throw shooting was a big part of the win. Eventually Elizabethton would knock down 26 of 30 tosses from the line.

But it wasn't the best passing effort. As a team the Cyclones had just eight assists, possibly their lowest total of the season.

Elizabethton was able to push out to a 24-10 lead early in the second quarter. South went on an 8-2 run to close within eight points late in the period before the Cyclones worked their way to a 31-21 halftime lead.

A big challenge awaits Wednesday.

“It will take hard work and teamwork,” said Robinson. “If we play together, there's nobody we can't beat.”

Grainger 81, Sullivan East 48

It was basically no contest as the Lady Grizzlies built a 42-25 halftime lead and never looked back.

Blake Lamb took the Patriots apart with 25 points, knocking down five 3-pointers. Celeste Stratton added 21 points and Allison Hodge, who went over 2,000 points for her career in the game, finished with 16.

Grainger head coach Justin Combs said his team is the underdog against Elizabethton.

“They beat us in the region last year,” said Combs. “I feel they are the favorite. They are big. Their size is impressive.”

East got four 3-pointers and 15 points from Brandy Watkins. Jamison Shaffer added 11 points.

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