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ELIZABETHTON — It's hard to imagine anybody saw a blowout coming in this game.
Elizabethton took control late in the first quarter, ran away, and never looked back in a 72-50 victory over Unicoi County on Friday night at Treadway Gym.
The Blue Devils were 11-1 heading into the game, and lost their first Three Rivers Conference contest to fall to 3-1.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones improved to 3-1 in the league and 8-4 overall.
“We prepared for Unicoi all week, and we've been looking forward to this game since we read about them being the favorite to win the conference,” said Cyclones' guard Zeke Clark, who filled up the hoop for a total of 29 points. “And we needed to make up for our conference loss to Sullivan East.”
In the girls' game, Elizabethton's sophomore twins, Kelci Marosites and Kayla Marosites evenly split 40 points in an 83-40 whipping of the Lady Blue Devils.
Elizabethton's boys got an early edge when Unicoi's post starters combined for five first-quarter fouls. The Cyclones closed the first period with an 8-1 spurt to take a 21-12 lead.
Late in the second quarter, the Cyclones authored a 10-3 run to push ahead 42-30 and still led by nine at the break.
Clark had a big hand in the win, but Tyler Nichols was right there with him. Nichols cut loose for 20 points, 10 rebounds and five steals with an impressive both-ends-of-the-court effort.
“Tyler always plays a big role,” said Clark. “He has improved so much since last year.”
Cyclones' head coach Lucas Honeycutt said Nichols can fill up the stat sheet.
“That's the kind of kid he needs to be, night in and night out,” said Honeycutt. “He's coming into his own.”
Elizabethton put the game away late in the third quarter by outscoring Unicoi 11-0 in the final three minutes. The Cyclones consistently beat the Blue Devils off the dribble, and got a lot of shots inside 10-12 feet.
“We gave them some speed problems,” said Honeycutt. “We got the ball inside and that opened things up for us.”
Bo Pless also played a big role, totaling 10 points to give the Cyclones a much-needed third scorer.
It was 58-40 at the end of three quarters, and Unicoi head coach John English pulled his starters except for Nic Chambers, who had missed most of the game with foul trouble.
“I wish I had pulled the plug earlier,” said English. “The last eight minutes those guys competed.”
However, English said he couldn't find a positive spin to put on this one.
“I don't have an explanation for it,” he said. “My job is to have them ready, and obviously I didn't. Coach Honeycutt had his kids ready, and we got completely outcoached.
“If this doesn't humble you, you don't have a competitive spirit.”
Unicoi didn't have a player reach double figures with Lucas Hensley totaling eight points to lead the way.
Elizabethton (girls) 83
Unicoi County 40
It didn't take long for the Lady Cyclones to establish a big lead, and they never let up.
At the forefront of the attack were the Marosites. Each player had 20 points, and Kayla added five steals. It was the second straight big effort for Kelci, who had 19 points in Friday's win over Sullivan East.
“I'm being more aggressive, with help from my teammates,” said Kelci. “And we are playing together really well. We are not a selfish team. We pass the ball, and we just want to win.”
Lady Cyclones head coach Len Dugger said Kelci stayed after practice Thursday to take 100 extra shots on the shooting machine.
“That's what I really like, someone who likes to be in the gym,” said Dugger.
Elizabethton shot well, played good defense, and had just four turnovers for the game.
“I thought tonight was pretty sweet,” said Dugger. “We rebounded well, and shot it well. And I was real impressed with the effort and intensity on the defensive end.”
The Lady Cyclones jumped out to a 19-9 lead after one quarter, and then opened the second quarter with a 19-5 run that included four 3-pointers.
By halftime it was 47-20, and Elizabethton never looked back.
Megan Pietrowski dominated in the paint early in the game, and finished with 11 points. Emily Kiser also had a nice performance, totaling 12 points. Sarah Bradley totaled five assists.
Unicoi got a nice effort from Hannah Rice, who scored over half of her team's points with 21.