ELIZABETHTON – Wednesday night’s action gave a packed house at Elizabethton all anyone could ask for out of a basketball game, unless you’re a Greeneville fan, then you would probably ask for one more shot to fall.
The Lady Devils battled with Elizabethton for the Region 1-3A championship in a true classic in which both teams left everything they had on the floor, but it was the Lady Cyclones that finished on top of a 59-58 nail biter.
“We are right back where we were last year, we were a little closer this time, but I sure wanted to cut down nets in their gym,” Greeneville coach Annette Watts said. “But that’s ok. I was proud of the effort and I was proud of what we did.”
The road is not over for Greeneville, but it does get tougher as the Lady Devils will have to travel to Seymour on Saturday for the state sectionals. It is the same trip the Lady Devils took last year, and they won 64-44 to advance to the Class 3A State Tournament. Seymour defeated Halls 51-32 in the Region 2-3A championship game.
“We’ll go to Seymour again. We know they still have that good little guard, and we’ll just have to go down there and hit them in the mouth early,” Watts said.
Greeneville played from behind, but within striking distance for almost the entirety of the contest, and they began Wednesday’s fourth quarter trailing 45-42.
In the early going of the final frame Chloe Marsh got inside for a pair lay ins. With 5:03 left to play Lauren Bailey knocked down a three-pointer from beyond the left elbow for a 49-48 Lady Devils’ lead. It was Greeneville’s first lead since the 2:38 mark of the second quarter.
While the contest was only more than a two-possession game for 17 seconds Greeneville only played in front for 2:46 of 32-minute contest.
“I wanted to press more, and I think that could have helped us get over the hump,” Watts said. “I think that would have made them rush a little a more. I just didn’t know if we had the legs to do it. If I had to do it again I would have fouled earlier and I would have pressed.”
Just 13 seconds after losing the lead Elizabethton’s Lina Lyon found Olivia Holly open for a corner three and a 51-49 lead. Over the next 38 seconds Lyon set up Holly for a fast-break layup, before the point guard got a floater to fall herself for a 55-49 lead.
Much of Greeneville’s defensive focus on Wednesday was spent slowing down Lyon, and they held her to only 10 points. Where Lyon got the best of the Lady Devils is when the defense collapsed on her dangerous drives into the paint she found shooters in the corner. Elizabethton was able to hit seven corner three-pointers on Wednesday.
“We know Lyon is a good player, and she is going to get hers,” Watts said. “ But we weren’t supposed to help on her drives. We wanted to let her have two and not give up three. But that is so hard to do in a two-day turnaround. We always help on that drive, that’s what I teach, and in one day we had to adjust everything and learn not to come off our man.”
With 57 seconds left things got really interesting when Bailey tied the game at 58-58 by sinking a straight-away trey.
On the trip the other way Lyon was fouled and made one-of-two free throws to put the Cyclones back in front.
Greeneville tried to hold for the last shot and called a timeout with 16 remaining. Out of the break Bailey drove the baseline while being defended hard by Katie Lee. She was supposed to have three passing options as well as the option shoot from the block, but as Bailey went to gather for the shot the ball went out of bounds off of her foot.
The Lady Devils still were not done, but they had to foul twice to get to the bonus. With 5.8 seconds left they sent Marlee Mathena to line.
Mathena missed the front end of a one-and-one and Anna Shaw took the rebound up the floor quickly. Shaw found a good look from the left wing but the shot went long off the iron and the Lady Cyclones held on for the win.
Wednesday’s opening quarter went back and forth, but Greeneville gained a brief edge at 12-9 when Marsh made a quick move in the post to beat Mathena on the left block.
On the trip the other way Renna Lane hit from deep for Elizabethton to tie the game at 12-12.
The Lady Cyclones closed the period with a 17-16 lead after Lyon came down baseline and got a floater to fall.
Elizabethton’s Lane hit from behind the arc again to push the advantage to 23-18.
With 3:17 left in the first half Shaw pulled up for a three-pointer that put the Lady Devils in front 25-23, then she gave Greeneville a 27-25 lead by driving through the lane for a layup.
Over the final minutes of the first half Reiley Whitson nailed a three-pointer for the Lady Cyclones, and Maddie Fowler scored inside to give Elizabethton a 30-27 lead at intermission.
In the third quarter Elizabethton used a quick 6-0 run to take the biggest lead of the night at 45-37. Lyon scored on a pair of floaters in the run.
Lindy Carter answered for the Lady Devils by taking a feed from Bailey on the block and turning into a triple from the right wing. Kyla Jobe then finished the first half by putting back her own miss to close the gap to 45-42.
Bailey led Greeneville on Wednesday with 17 points while Jobe added 10 points off the bench.
Lane led Elizabethton with 19 points while Holly and Lyon each put in 10 points.
Greeneville 16 11 15 16 58
Elizabethton 17 13 15 14 59
Greeneville: Bailey 17, Jobe 10, Shaw 9, Marsh 9 Carter 6, Martin 4, Ellenburg 3
Elizabethton: Lane 19, Holly 10, Lyon 10, Whitson 9, Lee 6, Mathena 6, Fowler 2