ELIZABETHTON — Grainger was undefeated on the season, but Elizabethton was 6-0 in its most recent Region 1-AA girls championship games.
The Lady Cyclones extended their streak, ending the Lady Grizzlies’ unbeaten run with a convincing 70-55 victory Wednesday night at Treadway Gym in front of a big and loud crowd.
Reazyn DeMoss, who was chosen as the tournament’s most valuable player, said the Lady Cyclones didn’t care how many people were expecting Grainger to win.
“We came out with more heart than we’ve ever come out with before,” said DeMoss, who soared for 22 points and 14 rebounds. “It was more motivation when people said we couldn’t do it.”
Elizabethton improved to 27-4 with its seventh regional championship in the last 10 seasons. The Lady Cyclones will play host to Alcoa in Saturday’s Class AA Sectional. Elizabethton defeated Alcoa 82-61 back on Nov. 27.
Christian Academy of Knoxville beat Alcoa 62-44 in the Region 2-AA title game. Grainger (32-1) will travel Saturday to face CAK.
It was evident early Elizabethton was ready to play. DeMoss knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first three minutes, and Kelci Marosites followed suit with two more later in the first quarter.
Grainger went on an 8-0 run to take a 19-18 lead in the second quarter, but the Cyclones answered with three more treys — one from Marosites and two from DeMoss — for a 29-23 advantage.
Then the Cyclones really took control of the game, starting the second half with a 12-3 spurt for a 41-28 advantage.
From there to the finish, Grainger got no closer than eight points.
Elizabethton head coach Len Dugger pointed out injuries to point guard Morgan Depew and post Caley Hodge as things the Cyclones overcame to earn another region title.
“These girls have amazed me the last six weeks or so,” said Dugger. “We met on Sunday afternoon after the Happy Valley game, when we knew Morgan was hurt badly, and I told the girls I honestly believed we could still get done what we set out to do if we just believed.”
The Marosites twins have been a big part of the late-season charge. This time it was Kelci with the big game as she totaled 23 points, knocking down four 3-pointers.
Another big part of the victory was senior post Whitney Roberts. She struggled shooting, but kept battling and rebounding and things came together nicely in the fourth quarter. Roberts finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“I told Whitney to keep playing, and the shots will fall,” said Dugger.
After combining for 23 points and 25 rebounds on Monday, DeMoss and Roberts joined forces for 34 points and 26 rebounds.
“It’s our last year, and our last two weeks of basketball,” said DeMoss. “We’re just trying to give it all we’ve got.”
Sarah Bradley also played a key role for the Cyclones. She totaled five points, dished out seven assists, and took care of the basketball.
“She does so many little things,” said Dugger. “She makes so many big plays, and she made those free throws (3 of 4 late in the fourth quarter). I just prayed the good Lord would help her do her best.”
Kayla Marosites struggled in the first half, but came on strong in the second to finish with six points and eight rebounds.
Dugger said the home crowd helped his team.
“The fans were phenomenal,” he said. “That was the X factor. We have some of the best fans from here to Memphis. I appreciate them so much.”
As for Grainger, Allison Hodge was a force. She finished with 30 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 14 of 16 from the line. Hodge also had seven rebounds.
Blake Lamb added 10 points and nine rebounds while Laura Johnson totaled 10 points.