KINGSPORT — A battle for first place ended with the mercy rule.
Elizabethton's girls relentlessly harassed Sullivan South and ran away for a surprisingly easy 78-32 win in a Three Rivers Conference basketball game Friday night at South's gym.
Ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AA, Elizabethton (5-0, 14-3) took over sole possession of first place in the conference while South fell to 4-1, 10-7 with its fifth consecutive loss.
Elizabethton started with a bang, building a 12-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game. By the end of the first quarter, it had grown to 27-8.
Sophomores Kelci Marosites and Kayla Marosites did their usual damage, but Emily Kiser was a big reason for the game becoming a blowout. Kiser finished with a career-high 24 points, including four knockdowns from trey country.
The sophomore was coming off a junior-varsity game where things didn't go quite as well for her.
“Before the varsity game, I prayed about it and asked God to give me confidence,” said Kiser. “That was a big part of it.”
Kiser also had four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Elizabethton head coach Len Dugger said she is maturing as a player.
“I've stayed on her about playing on the defensive end, but she has as good of a shot as anybody in the area,” said Dugger. “She presents a lot of problems for a defense.”
The Marosites evenly split 32 points. Kayla added five steals while Kelci racked up nine rebounds.
“What can I say about Kelci and Kayla?” said Dugger. “They give it everything they've got for 94 feet. I'm so blessed to have kids like that.”
Continuing to press and run the floor, the Lady Cyclones extended their edge to 36-11 and took a 38-15 lead into halftime.
South hit a 3-pointer to start the second half, but the Cyclones responded with an 11-0 run to put the game away. A 10-0 spurt later in the third quarter made it 59-25. Then Elizabethton started the fourth quarter with a 9-0 stretch.
At every turn, it was Cyclones, Cyclones, Cyclones.
“I think we were just confident, played together, and made good passes,” said Kiser.
Dugger said he was especially pleased with the way his team forced a tempo South was clearly not comfortable playing.
“I really think it helps our all-around game when we get after it like that,” said Dugger. “And we came out and shot it so well. I was so pleased with everybody's effort. Everybody contributed to this one.”
South was led by Kayla Tipton, who finished with nine points. Abby Conkin added eight points.