Elizabethton (6-1) trailed by 10 with just over six minutes left, but the Cyclones closed the gap at the free-throw line. Elizabethton made 8 of 10 free throws in the final quarter, including one by Eric Wilson with 3:28 left to cut the lead to just a single point. Cade Mitchell snapped a Viking scoring drought on the next possession and Tennessee High went 4-for-6 at the line in the final 38 seconds to put the game out of reach.
Included in that were two free throws from the Vikings’ Brandon Brown who scored five of his team-high 10 points in the final quarter.
The Cyclones had a balanced attack led by Wilson with 11 points and Nico Ashley with nine points, but they came up just short.
“Shots didn’t fall and a lot of times that determines how you play on the defensive end. We played pretty well on the defensive end,” Elizabethton head coach Lucas Honeycutt said. “We had a lot of fight and tried to come back with a small lineup. We just couldn’t get enough to get back in it.”
Cyclones open early lead
Tennessee High started the game with a 7-4 advantage, but the Cyclones responded with a 9-2 scoring spurt, which included back-to-back scores by Carter Everett. Evan Perkins helped with a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Perkins finished with nine points.
Elizabethton pulled ahead in the second quarter thanks to a nearly seven-minute scoring drought for the the Vikings. The Cyclones maintained the advantage the rest of the half and led 24-17 at the break.
“I think we came out and hit a few shots which gave us some energy. When those shots stopped falling it seemed like we weren’t playing with the same intensity,” Honeycutt said about the first half. “We were limited in what we were doing and I don’t think we really settled in at anytime either. When they switched defenses, it seemed like we got stagnant.”
The Vikings opened the second half with six straight points. Elizabethton took a time out to regroup, but eventually the Vikings were able to regain a 29-28 advantage. Nolan Wishon scored eight of the Vikings’ first 12 second-half points and ended with nine points.
Both teams will have a quick turnaround. The Cyclones play Meigs County at 1:30 p.m. while the Vikings have a 6 p.m. contest with Charlotte, Fla.