KINGSPORT — Sullivan South generally won't knock a team out, but those punches and jabs come from so many directions it's hard to keep everything covered.
In an important Three Rivers Conference basketball contest Friday night, the Rebels went about their business of earning a 63-55 victory over Elizabethton.
“This was a huge win in the league,” said Rebels' head coach Mark Pendleton, whose team improved to 5-0 in league play and 9-7 overall. “There's a long way to go, but home games are so crucial.”
Elizabethton (13-6 overall) slipped to 3-2 in the conference.
It was pretty much a defensive struggle in the first quarter as neither team seemed to find much of a rhythm. South finally got an edge with a 6-0 run late in the second quarter to push out to a 25-15 lead.
Colton Young was a big part of South's strong second quarter, authoring nine points in a span of 2:35. Young finished with 18 points.
“He had a stretch early in the season where he played really well,” said Pendleton. “Tonight he was really active without the ball, and when he got the ball he did a lot of things.”
Cyclones head coach Lucas Honeycutt said his team didn't find Young a few times.
“We knew he was a shooter,” said Honeycutt. “For some reason we didn't pick him up. And once a shooter sees the ball go through the net, he's going to shoot it well.”
The Rebels led 31-20 at halftime, but Elizabethton seemed to be getting back in the game in the third quarter. A five-point spurt made it 36-27.
This time, the Rebels went on a 7-0 run to open up a 16-point lead. From there to the finish, the Cyclones occasionally edged back within shouting distance, but never really made a major threat.
It was a good all-around effort from South, which got 12 points each from Evan Headrick and Dalton Light — and Light added six rebounds. Christian Comsa and Dylan Wieger also had some timely buckets and rebounds.
“Balance is the key,” said Pendelton. “We've been lucky to have that most games this year.”
Zeke Clark, who entered the game averaging 21.3 points per game for the Cyclones, couldn't get his shot to fall consistently. He finished with 14 points, and had to work hard for all of them.
“We knew where he wanted to shoot the ball,” said Pendleton. “We did a pretty good job of staying in front of him, and not giving him any easy points.”
Austin Cornett did his level best to give the Cyclones a fighting chance. He finished with 14 points and knocked down three trey balls.
“I thought he played really well,” said Honeycutt. “It was a great performance overall.”
Bo Pless added 10 points for the Cyclones.