The Lady Cyclones will add a player to the mix that could alter their district tournament trajectory when Kaitlin Bailey becomes eligible for varsity action Wednesday. Elizabethton will have two games with her in the lineup prior to the beginning of the district tournament.
Coach Lucas Andrews said he believes his team is capable of making loud noise in the district.
“I don’t think it’s too much to say that,” Andrews said. “We are at Elizabethton, and Elizabethton has had that standard. And with the way the league is, where anybody can beat anybody, in the tournament you just never know.
“With us having a full roster and everybody getting healthy, it gives us more depth and we can do a few things differently. The girls are really excited to get to the district.”
Bailey transferred from Unicoi County to Elizabethton in early February 2018. Without a bona fide change of address, Bailey was forced by TSSAA rules to sit out for 12 months. She was allowed to participate in practices and has been playing with the junior varsity team all season.
The 6-foot junior’s insertion into the Lady Cyclones’ playing-time mix could make Elizabethton a lot different than its record suggests.
“We have played her from positions 1 through 5,” said Andrews. “She handles the ball well, and also has the ability to post up and score.”
Bailey was one of the key players for Unicoi County as a sophomore — averaging nine points, six rebounds and two assists per game — so it’s not like she will catch the league by surprise. But she could be the missing piece to a puzzle that has kept the Lady Cyclones from stringing wins together.
“She has had a great season,” said Andrews. “Obviously you wish you had her on the varsity the whole time, but she was able to go through the summer, play on the JV, and learn the system.”
The Lady Cyclones get two major tests prior to the district tournament. They play at Sullivan Central on Friday and are home to face Dobyns-Bennett on Saturday. There is no pressure to win either game, and even a tight four-quarter showing could create postseason confidence.
“Everybody knows Central is at the top of the league, and D-B is at the top of its league with Science Hill,” said Andrews, whose team will play Science Hill on Tuesday without Bailey. “It gives her two games to get in the flow and get everybody used to her on the court before we start the tournament. Those two games will test what we can and can’t do.”
TThe District 1-A basketball tournament has been moved to Sullivan North. It will run from Feb. 15-19.
The tournament was originally scheduled to be played at Unaka.
Here’s the rundown for Wednesday’s signing day:
A pair of football players will make it official. Lineman Cade Salyers will sign to play with Richmond and quarterback Lendon Redwine will make Virginia-Wise his choice.
Six athletes will sign, including Chase Diehl with Southern Illinois for wrestling. Drew Morrison will go with Carson-Newman for football.
Softball teammates Casey Bennett (Chattanooga State) and Makenzie Smith (Union College) will make it official. Patrick Brown (soccer, Pikeville) and Gracie Duncan (soccer, Southern Virginia) also will put ink to their decisions
Lineman Garrett Jennings will put his signature to paper for Eastern Kentucky and quarterback Carter Everett will be heading to Tusculum. Running back Austin Outland will sign with Emory & Henry.
Boys basketball games of the week
TUESDAY — Tennessee High at Dobyns-Bennett, Elizabethton at Science Hill, Sullivan East at Johnson County, North Greene at Hampton
Elizabethton at Sullivan Central, Johnson County at Sullivan South
SATURDAY — Dobyns-Bennett at Elizabethton
It’s time to settle the Big 7 Conference title. The Indians traveled to Viking Hall on Jan. 11 and came away with a 61-60 loss. It was D-B’s only in-state loss of the season, and the Tribe has won eight in a row since that setback, including six blowouts along the way. Tennessee High has won 11 of its last 12, including Saturday’s 99-44 smash-mouth win over rival Virginia High.
It should be a dandy game with the Indians’ home court giving them the favorite’s edge. ...
Johnson County has business to attend to if the Longhorns want to have a shot at sharing the Three Rivers Conference title with Elizabethton. They will be favored against both East and South but only slightly. ...
Elizabethton has built plenty of momentum throughout the season, but the season-ending week is a challenging one, schedule- wise. First, the Cyclones will try for a rare season sweep of non-league rival Science Hill before trying to finish with an 11-1 Three Rivers mark when they take on Central. Then they face a rematch with a team that crunched them by 26 points Saturday. ...
Hampton beat North Greene by only two points on the road. Now the Bulldogs have to hold off the Huskies at home to have a chance to stay toe to toe with University High at the top of the Watauga Valley Conference.
Boys basketball rankings
There was more movement than usual in this week’s High School Boys Top 10.
Team (W-L) — Prv
1. Dobyns-Bennett (23-3) — 1
2. Johnson County (22-4) — 2
3. Tennessee High (21-6) — 4
4. Elizabethton (18-5) — 3
5. Daniel Boone (10-11) — 6
6. Science Hill (13-14) — 7
7. Sullivan South (19-9) — 5
8. Hampton (19-8) — 9
9. Sullivan East (17-11) — 10
10. University High (19-5) — 8
Girls basketball games of the week
TUESDAY — Unicoi County at Sullivan Central
— Science Hill at Cherokee, Elizabethton at Sullivan Central, Unaka at North Greene
Sullivan Central will try to finish a perfect league mark with a pair of home games. ...
Unaka could have a chance Friday to spin the Watauga Valley into a three-way tie if the Lady Rangers, North Greene and Cloudland take care of other business.
Girls basketball rankings
Sullivan South, riding a four-game winning streak, jumps two spots to No. 7 in the High School Girls Top 10.
Team (W-L) — Prv
1. Science Hill (23-3) — 1
2. Dobyns-Bennett (22-5) — 2
3. Daniel Boone (18-9) — 3
4. Sullivan Central (17-9) — 4
5. Cherokee (17-8) — 5
6. Cloudland (19-6) — 6
7. Sullivan South (16-10) — 9
8. Unicoi County (14-8) — 7
9. Happy Valley (15-9) — 8
10. Sullivan East (12-16) — 10