ELIZABETHTON — For the better part of three quarters, Happy Valley battled Elizabethton pretty much on even terms.
However, when the Cyclones came to life, things got away quickly for the Warriors. The end result was a 69-49 win for Elizabethton on Friday night at Treadway Gymnasium.
The Cyclones improved to 7-2 in the Three Rivers Conference and 18-6 overall while the Warriors (0-8, 3-19) remained winless in the league.
In the girls’ game, Elizabethton ran away from the Lady Warriors in the fourth quarter for a 48-37 win.
Elizabethton’s boys led 21-18 at halftime, and it was still a three-point game with three minutes left in the third quarter. However, Zach Norwood converted a pair of free throws and Zeke Clark knocked down a trey ball.
The Warriors got a bucket from Camen Wilder, but Elizabethton closed with seven points in the final 51 seconds to take a commanding 45-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
Clark and Norwood haunted Happy Valley all night long. The duo combined for 28 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and 12 steals.
Clark — who had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and six steals — said the first half was a touch of nervousness because of a huge homecoming crowd that nearly filled the gym.
“I think a lot of it was nerves,” said Clark. “I hope we get used to it for the tournaments, so it won’t bother us as much.”
In the second half, it looked a whole lot more like the Elizabethton team that has been on a roll lately.
“We just calmed down and got our heads together,” said Clark. “We had better shot selection and started playing as a team more. We started to click, and then it was fun.”
Norwood finished with 14 points, three rebounds, five assists and six steals. Will Robinson chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds. Michael Wagner added 10 points and six rebounds.
Elizabethton head coach Lucas Honeycutt said Happy Valley put up a nice fight.
“Happy Valley had a good effort, and played well,” said Honeycutt. “They made a few mistakes, and we turned up the pressure in the third quarter. We started playing the way we have been playing.”
Elizabethton had 20 steals to only seven for Happy Valley.
“I think length helped us a lot tonight,” said Honeycutt. “We had a few traps that were really good, and we forced a lot of turnovers.”
Honeycutt said his team needs to keep its edge heading toward postseason play.
“We’ve secured a spot in the region, but we need to win out,” he said. “Then we need to go into the tournament and play every game like it is our last.”
Josh Price had a nice game for Happy Valley, totaling 14 points and seven rebounds. Wilder finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Elizabethton (girls) 48
Happy Valley 37
Trailing 35-29 with seven minutes left in the game, it was all Lady Cyclones to the finish.
“I thought the difference in the game was the hustle plays and the 50-50 balls,” said Elizabethton head coach Len Dugger. “Also, Whitney (Roberts) and Reazyn (DeMoss) really controlled the boards and got us second-shot opportunities.”
That was especially true in the fourth quarter, where Elizabethton outrebounded the Lady Warriors by an 11-4 margin. Also, the Lady Cyclones outscored Happy Valley 19-3 in the final period.
One of the biggest moments of the game was Roberts getting an old-fashioned three-point play off an offensive rebound to put Elizabethton up 38-37 with 3:49 remaining. In the Cyclones’ most recent game, against Hampton, Roberts had the eventual game-winning bucket.
Two minutes later, freshman Kelci Marosites rocked home a 3-swish from the corner to make it 41-37.
Despite those two killer plays, Warriors’ head coach Larry Abel said his team didn’t lose heart and kept fighting.
“My girls battled hard,” said Abel. “Elizabethton knocked down shots, and ours didn’t fall. They rimmed out instead. I’m proud of the girls.”
Roberts was a big factor for Elizabethton (7-1, 20-4), totaling 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals. She got nine points and six rebounds in the second half.
“It was all or nothing, and we knew what to do,” said Roberts. “We didn’t give them options. In the second half we didn’t give them open looks, and didn’t give them second chances.”
Reazyn DeMoss led the Lady Cyclones with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Kayla Marosites added 11 points.
“Happy Valley was ready to play, and played really well,” said Dugger. “We were a little flat, and didn’t shoot it well. But the way we responded was a huge positive. It showed a lot of character.”
Happy Valley (2-5, 10-11) got 12 points from Mackenzie Blankenship. Kalee Johnson added eight points and eight rebounds.