Elizabethton was determined not to have a quarterfinal exit for the second straight season.
The Lady Cyclones advanced with a 66-54 victory over Dyersburg in the Class 3A Quarterfinals on Tuesday afternoon inside the Murphy Center.
It was Elizabethton’s first win at the state tournament since 2015. Elizabethton will take on Jackson South Side in Thursday’s night semifinal with a spot in Saturday’s Championship game on the line.
This year comes nearly to the day when Elizabethton saw their season come to a close in the quarterfinals.
“I made the same walk last year, but I told Lina – ‘this walk feels better, we’re not bawling our eyes out,” Elizabethton senior Renna Lane said. “This year, it felt so much different, and our coaches couldn’t have prepared us more for this team, and we’re going to continue to prepare like that for the whole week.”
After Dyersburg opened the scoring, Marlee Mathena put the Lady Cyclones on the board off an offensive rebound, and Lina Lyon added a basket to give Elizabethton a 4-2 lead three minutes into the game.
“I think a lot of times that happens here,” Elizabethton Head Coach Lucas Andrews said of the slow offensive start. “No matter who is playing, there’s always maybe one little stretch and everybody that has that where you just feel like there is a lid on it. You just gotta keep going after it.”
The Lady Trojans were able to tie the game, but Elizabethton never trailed from that point.
The teams traded shots, with Lane and Reiley Whitson providing key shots as EHS held a slim 13-12 lead after a quarter of play.
The Lady Cyclones saw Katie Lee, Lane, and Mathena combine for a quick 7-0 run to open the second quarter. EHS used timely shots throughout the second to maintain the advantage and take a 27-20 lead into the half.
The third quarter saw the momentum continue to stay on the side of the Orange and Black.
EHS quickly pushed the lead to double-digits, and a quick 7-0 run gave EHS a 16-point advantage with just over two minutes left in the third.
Dyersburg methodically cut into the EHS lead in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Cyclones were able to secure the win at the free-throw line in the final minutes.
Lyon had 19 points to lead Elizabethton, while Mathena had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Lane finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Whitson and Lee had eight and six points, respectively.
Despite a Lady Trojan press, Elizabethton had just nine turnovers in the game.
“We knew they were going to press, and we knew that there were going to throw that 2-2-1 and that 1-2-2 trap,” Andrews said. “We’ve seen it a lot during the season – especially early in games. “So, we really didn’t harp on it much. I feel confident in all of them that they know where their marks are, and they find that girl and hit an attack.”
Taylor Crawford led Dyersburg with 33 points, while Netala Dixon had 13 points.
Now, the Lady Cyclones turn their attention to an undefeated Jackson South Side squad – who advanced by defeating the defending state champion Upperman.
“Basically, you have 10 minutes, celebrate, and maybe get back out there and watch this game just to get a feel for what they’re doing,” Andrews said. “That is part of the state tournament. You know you play the best in the state, and like we told them before the game – you deserve to be here – and that’s who you are wanting to play.”
Photos by Tate Russell