ELIZABETHTON — Elizabethton returned to a familiar position while Happy Valley was unable to navigate unfamiliar waters.
The Lady Cyclones pushed aside South Greene 69-61 in the Region 1-AA girls basketball semifinals Monday night at Treadway Gymnasium.
In the other semifinal, undefeated Grainger whipped Happy Valley by a 53-26 margin.
Elizabethton (26-4) advanced to the regional championship game for the eighth time in 11 years. The Lady Cyclones, who also earned a berth in the sectional round, will battle Grainger (32-0) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
It was a season-ending loss for the Lady Warriors, who were making their first regional semifinal appearance since 1996. They finished with a record of 14-15.
Like they have consistently done since moving into more prominent roles late in the season, the Marosites twins did their part for Elizabethton. They combined for 30 points with Kayla totaling 17 and Kelci adding 13 by making all six of her field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer.
However, the Lady Cyclones needed more, and seniors Whitney Roberts and Reazyn DeMoss provided it. They combined for 23 points and 25 rebounds.
Those rebounds were important because the Cyclones struggled throughout the game in that area. South Greene attacked the glass for 17 offensive rebounds.
However, Roberts consistently worked on the glass and totaled 13 rebounds to go along with a matching 13 points.
“They are one of the most aggressive rebounding teams,” said Roberts of South Greene. “They know how to block you out, and they're smart. You've got to move before they do.”
DeMoss battled for 12 rebounds and added 10 points.
“A lot of people can rebound if it bounces right to them,” said Elizabethton head coach Len Dugger. “But it's tough to get them in traffic. Whitney and Reazyn both did that.”
After a 9-9 start, Elizabethton got on a roll and went on a 22-4 run to take a commanding lead.
“I thought we played really well in the first half,” said Dugger. “And it wasn't that we played bad in the second half, but we played a little more tentative.”
South Greene finally started chipping away with a 9-2 spurt late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter. However, the Lady Rebels didn't take advantage of their free throw opportunities, making just one of two tosses on five different trips.
The Rebels got within nine at 58-49 with 3:12 to go, but the Cyclones answered with a 7-3 spurt to put the game out of reach.
Junior point guard Sarah Bradley chipped in with seven points, five assists and four steals for Elizabethton. Senior Savannah Madgett came off the bench to provide some key minutes, including a key bucket late in the third quarter and a pair of free throws midway through the fourth quarter.
“We're just a team,” said Dugger. “We just try to help each other, and make plays to get a win. I'm proud of all of the girls.”
South Greene got 20 points from Maelyn Cutshaw. Alora Ricker added 16 points and nine rebounds. Cheyenne Upton totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Dugger said he knows his team faces a major challenge against Grainger.
“I saw that team coming two years ago when we played them in the region semifinals,” said Dugger. “I know their post people are versatile, and they step out on the floor and shoot it well.”
Happy Valley 26
After a 6-2 start, things went badly for the Lady Warriors. They managed only 20 points in the final 30 minutes of the game, and were scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Lady Grizzlies closed the first quarter with an 11-0 run and never looked back.
Allison Hodge paced Grainger with 19 points while Blake Lamb added 16. Laura Johnson chipped in with 11.
The Warriors were led by Annie Woods, who knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
Shalee Perry and Mackenzie Blankenship, whose postseason success had been a major factor in lifting Happy Valley to this point, couldn't get rolling. Perry finished with eight points while Blankenship added only three.
Grainger head coach Justin Combs said his team played good defense.
“We didn't do anything particular on (Perry and Blankenship),” said Combs. “We just tried to keep the ball in front of us. Those two are super penetrators.”
Combs said his team will have its hands full with Elizabethton.
“It could be the best team we've seen all year,” said Combs.
Happy Valley head coach Larry Abel said he was proud of his team.
“They exceeded everybody's expectations, and worked hard to do it,” said Abel. “This team accomplished a lot with a tremendous amount of youth.”