Bo Pless went for game-highs with 18 points, 14 rebounds and the Elizabethton Cyclones stopped a six-game skid with a 45-39 victory over Hampton High in non-conference action Monday night at John Treadway Gymnasium.
The win for the Cyclones (9-7) puts them back into familiar territory after a brutal stretch of holiday tournaments in Rhea County, Tenn. and Corbin, K.Y.
“We played some real good competition in those tournaments,” Pless said. “We’ve been told since when we were little that the best way to get better is to play good players and I think that is ringing true now. I think it’ll help us down the stretch.”
Hampton, ranked No. 4 in the state in Class A for the Associated Press’ Top 10, fell to 12-6 on the year and was led by 14 points from sophomore guard Adam McClain, nine coming in the second half. Senior Stanley Valentine made a return after being shelved after an injury in Harriman Classic a week ago but left the game due to an injury with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs were the aggressor in the first half, jumping out to an early 13-8 lead – capped off by a Cheyenne Camilo 3-pointer with time expiring.
Elizabethton made their initial push in the in the second with an 8-0 run midway through the quarter with buckets from Pless, Hunter Greene and Tyler Nichols. McClain countered with a self-propelled 5-0 stretch to move the ‘Dogs into the half with a 20-17 advantage.
Greene (10 points) was the spark for the Cyclones in the second half, head coach Lucas Honeycutt said, anchoring in a pair of 3’s to open up another 8-0 early in the frame, complimented by a bucket from post-player Conley Bowers.
“You look at Hunter’s shot,” Honeycutt said. “It is a really pretty shot. He didn’t play last year, he’s not had a lot of varsity minutes. This is a kid that is working into his own and he’s doing very well at practice. The other day at practice, he’s sitting there shooting and hit about ten 3’s in a row.
“I just looked at him and said you just ‘gotta shoot it and don’t worry about it” Honeycutt said cracking a smile. “After halftime, I just told him ‘it’s going to go in, Hunter, just let it fly’ and he did and owned the moment. He really sparked the offensive in the second half.”
It was a cushion that saw the Cyclones take the lead 22-20 with under seven minutes to in the third and never trail throughout the remainder of the contest.
Nichols added 10 points, including two foul shots to seal the contest with 13 seconds remaining after another ‘Dogs push with buckets from McClain.
Coby Jones and Tyler Moody finished with six points apiece and Camillo added five to round out Hampton’s scoring.
“Getting a win against Hampton is a great thing,” Honeycutt said. “They are a great ball team.”
AROUND THE COURT
Elizabethton junior guard Teve Mushaymamunda (flu-like symptoms) missed the contest.
Hampton senior post Stanley Valentine and junior guard Nathan Norris made their return to the court after injury from the Harriman Classic. Valentine missed the remainder of the contest in the second half with an apparent lower-body injury. Norris finished the contest with a pair of steals and five assists
Elizabethton at Johnson County on Tuesday
Hampton at North Greene on Friday