The Cyclones left it all on the court against South Greene in Saturday night’s Region 1-AA basketball quarterfinals at John Treadway Gym, but a win was not to be for the home team.
The Rebels closed the game with game-sealing free throws and forced a turnover for the Cyclones to pull out a 48-47 victory.
“It hurts a lot,” Elizabethton coach Lucas Honeycutt said of the outcome. “I hope we can look at this going forward to give us motivation. We couldn’t get the ball to fall our way. We have been in both positions. It is fun when you win a game like this and it hurts when you lose.”
While Elizabethton (13-15) saw its season come to an end, South Greene (24-9) advanced to the Region 1-AA semifinals to face Grainger.
“We almost choked,” South Greene coach Terry Hoese said. “We made enough free throws to win the game. We had a huge shot made by Sully Fox to get us back in the lead in the end.”
Nico Ashley put up a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds in his final game as a Cyclone. Jake Roberts followed with 12 points, all coming from 3-point range.
The Rebels were led by Fox with 15 points and Clint Lamb’s 14. Lamb knocked down final free throws to put the Rebels up 48-44 with 18 seconds remaining.
Before the clutch shots by Lamb, Elizabethton nearly came back after tying the game at 44.
Unfortunately, the Cyclones committed two turnovers in those final seconds, giving South Greene the advantage.
“I think it came down to being able to execute,” Honeycutt said. “We were in a pressure situation. I would say executing during those pressure situations in a postseason game is what got us here tonight.”
Neither team found a rhythm in the first period, resulting in a 6-6 deadlock after eight minutes of play.
Each team began to pick up the scoring as the second quarter played out. Ashley produced the first 10 Cyclone points in the second to give his team a 16-12 lead. South Greene, though, managed to stay close.
An 18-17 EHS edge quickly turned into a 24-19 advantage after back-to-back makes from 3-point land from Roberts.
South Greene did not slip away, though. The Rebels netted five straight points before closing the half to tie the game at 24.
“The seniors turned it up,” Honeycutt said. “We saw Ashley take over a stretch of the second quarter. He left it all out there on the court. We picked it up there but couldn’t get ahead in the fourth quarter.”
The Rebels opened the second half by grabbing their first lead since the early minutes of the second period. They continued to build on their lead, too, by extending a 6-0 run to a 12-3 run. Fox accounted for the last five points of the run.
Elizabethton trailed 36-29 after three.
The Cyclones climbed back in the fourth quarter to tie the score up at 44 with a minute remaining after a five-point swing.
Unfortunately, Elizabethton could not close the deal. South Greene produced a bucket underneath and grabbed a steal right after.
The Rebels then went to the foul line to knock down the game-sealing shots to advance to the regional semifinals.