ELIZABETHTON — Elizabethton probably needed a game like this.
The Cyclones had lost two of three in the new year, but took out some frustrations on Happy Valley in a 78-36 whipping at Bayless Gym on Tuesday night.
“Our league is so tough this year, night in and night out,” said Cyclones’ head coach Lucas Honeycutt. “And we upped our schedule with Science Hill, and Hampton is having a fantastic year. So it’s good to have a game where we could relax in the fourth quarter, and get some young kids in the game who have been practicing really hard.”
Elizabethton improved to 4-2 in Three Rivers Conference play and 14-6 overall.
Tyler Nichols had his eye on the basket. He finished with 23 points and also totaled five rebounds.
“It just came open,” said Nichols. “I saw some spots, and I hit them.
“We really focused this week on getting to the basket. In practice the white team really pushed us this week. That helped us out a lot.”
Nichols said he needs to work on fighting through the tough times.
“(Coach Honeycutt) has been harping on me about not getting down on myself,” said Nichols. “It has been a problem, but I think I’m starting to come out of it.”
Warriors’ head coach Chuck Babb said Nichols presented a problem for Happy Valley.
“He’s a hard matchup for us,” said Babb. “He’s too tall for our wings, and our posts can’t stay with him. He pretty much had his way, and (Zeke) Clark did what he does.”
Clark hurt the Warriors, putting up 14 points and also dishing out five assists.
Honeycutt said the Cyclones expected a closer battle. Earlier this season they defeated Happy Valley 61-45.
“We didn’t expect this at all,” said Honeycutt. “(Happy Valley) has been playing better and putting points on the board. The first time we didn’t play well against them, but this game shows we’ve gotten better.”
The Cyclones didn’t jump all over Happy Valley from the get-go. They struggled to score early in the game, but eventually worked their way to an 18-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
It was a similar second-quarter story, and the Cyclones once again found their rhythm later in the period. They took a 35-18 edge into the locker room.
Finally, Elizabethton got things into a higher gear. The Cyclones outscored Happy Valley 13-2 to start the second half, building a 48-20 advantage. Unfortunately for Happy Valley, the Cyclones kept their foot on the gas to the finish.
Bo Pless totaled eight points and five rebounds while Teve Mushayamunda chipped in with nine points.
Happy Valley, which fell to 0-6 in league play and 2-17 overall, got 11 points from Austin Hicks and 10 from Josh Hammonds.