The win kept Elizabethton (10-3, 4-0) atop the Three Rivers Conference race.
“The message to the guys at halftime was we can’t give up. We have to keep playing and claw our way back into it,” Cyclones coach Lucas Honeycutt said. “The third quarter I felt like we settled down and although they were still scoring to keep the lead, we were just chipping away. We got to the fourth quarter and felt like we were in striking distance.
“The guys just got it done. They made plays.”
In girls action, the Lady Rebels broke through with their first Three Rivers win of the season, 53-43.
CYCLONES’ SECOND-HALF RALLY
The South boys enjoyed the lead most of the game and built a 45-27 advantage in the third quarter. Elizabethton responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Eric Wilson after loose balls to start its comeback.
Elizabethton chipped away and freshman Bryson Rollins’ layup with 2:55 remaining put the Cyclones up 49-48.
“We played great for 3½ quarters,” said Rebels coach Michael McMeans. “We let that momentum shift kill us. We let it get in our head instead of keep going and playing. We let it get to it too much. We can’t do that.”
The teams traded baskets until Rollins struck again with 87 seconds to go. He was also fouled by Ben Diamond — who fouled out — and the three-point play gave the Cyclones a 54-52 lead.
A series of free throws from Evan Perkins and Wilson iced the win. Wilson led the Cyclones with 15 points, all in the second half, and Rollins finished with 14 points, getting seven in the final quarter. Perkins also reached double digits with 10 points — eight in the fourth.
SOUTH BUILDS ITS LEAD
The Rebels (14-6, 1-2) gave the home fans plenty to cheer about early. Ben Diamond scored eight of his team-best 15 points in the opening quarter and South led 21-15 after eight minutes.
Chase Bowery added half of his 12 points in the first quarter as well.
LADY REBELS PREVAIL
South (10-8, 1-2) rallied in the second and third quarters to take and then build on its advantage. After a scoreless first quarter for the Lady Rebels’ Mollie Leslie, she scored 10 of her 13 points in the second and third quarters.
That helped South, which trailed 15-13 after one, establish a 44-29 lead going to the final eight minutes.
Alex Harris led the Lady Rebels with 14 points, hitting three shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Elizabethton (2-9, 1-3) got 17 points from Kaylen Shell and 14 from Morgan Headrick.