Blue Devil basketball team loses heartbreaker at Greeneville

Gavin Casey goes up for a shot at Greeneville on Monday, Feb. 25. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

From Staff Reports

The 2018-19 season came to a disappointing end for the Unicoi County High School boys basketball team on Monday, Feb. 25.

“It was a heartbreaking loss to lose the way that game ended,” head coach Michael Smith said.

The Blue Devils (9-24) traveled to Greeneville, the number one seed from District 2-AA, after taking fourth place in the District 1-AA tournament. Monday’s game was the first of the Region 1-AA tournament and was a win-or-go-home contest.

Against the Green Devils (20-10) on Monday, Unicoi County held a 19-16 lead after the first quarter, then trailed, 29-27, at halftime.

“I thought we did a pretty good job defensively knowing where their scorers were. We made them make tough shots,” Smith said. “When we ran our offense, we were able to get exactly what we wanted.”

By the end of the third quarter, Greeneville stretched its advantage to 5 points, 53-48, thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer by Connor Debusk.

“We got down 9 in the third and cut it to 2 before they hit that three,” Smith said. “We didn’t play well early in the third quarter. Then, we settled in and started playing like we had in the first half.”

Greeneville extended the lead to 9 points, 64-55, with just under five minutes to play. The Blue Devils then put together a run to take the lead.

“We changed our defense from zone to man-to-man and we made them take some tough shots,” Smith said. “We were also aggressive offensively and made some big free throws during that run.”

Brett Lingerfelt hit two free throws to make the score 64-57 for 3:45 on the clock. Following a missed free throw by the Green Devils, Brock Thompson was fouled and converted two free throws, which cut the lead to 5 points, 64-59, with 3 minutes to play.

Unicoi County then forced a missed shot by Greeneville. On the ensuing possession, Austin O’Dell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the putback for a 64-61 score with just over 2 minutes to play. Greeneville failed to score again, and again, the Blue Devils took advantage. This time, O’Dell sank two free throws for a 64-63 score.

Blue Devil Gavin Casey then came away with a steal and was fouled on the other end of the floor. Casey hit both free throws and Unicoi County took a 65-64 lead with 1:18 to play.

“That was a great job by Gavin to get that steal and get to the basket,” Smith said.

Greeneville then reclaimed the lead, 66-65, with 44 seconds to play on a bucket by Jaevon Gillespie.

Despite almost losing possession to a 10-second call, the Blue Devils managed to maintain possession, which allowed Casey to find Thompson on a backdoor cut for a layup. Thompson was fouled and converted the three-point play for a 68-65 Blue Devil lead with 20 seconds to play.

“It was a called play and we executed it,” Smith said.

For their last chance for the win, Greeneville went to Gillespie, who dribbled to the corner and launched a three-pointer that fell short. However, an official called a foul on the play and awarded Gillespie three free throws with 3 seconds to play.

“There are numerous other calls throughout a game, but the calls at the end of a game are the ones everyone remembers,” Smith said. “For that call to have been made then was just heartbreaking. We had played so hard to get back in the game and take the lead.”

Gillespie, who scored 28 points in the game, hit all three free throws, giving his team the cushion it needed to win the game and advance to the region semifinals. The Green Devils won the game, 71-68.

Thompson scored 22 points and had 6 rebounds in the loss to Greeneville. Casey scored 12. Caleb Adkins scored 8. O’Dell scored 8 and had 5 rebounds. Lingerfelt scored 7 (1 three-pointer) and had 4 assists. Ty Thelen scored 6 (2 three-pointers) and had 4 assists. Phoenix Holt scored 5.

Also on Monday, Johnson County defeated Chuckey-Doak, 62-47, in Afton. The Longhorns will play Elizabethton, who defeated Grainger, 48-41, on Monday, in the region semifinals at 4:30 p.m. at Happy Valley on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Greeneville will play Sullivan South, who defeated South Greene, 79-70, on Saturday, Feb. 23, on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

The Region 1-AA championship game will be played at Happy Valley on Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m.

• • •

The Blue Devils fell to Johnson County, 67-58, in the consolation game of the District 1-AA tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Happy Valley.

Despite trailing most of the game, the Longhorns put together a 23 point fourth quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils by 13 points, to get the win.

“I thought we played well most of the game,” Smith said. “We didn’t close out the game like we needed to. Turnovers really hurt us in the fourth quarter.”

Casey had 16 points (1 three-pointer), 6 rebounds and 4 steals in the loss. Thompson had 13 (3 three-pointers). Danny Lowery scored 12. Lingerfelt scored 8 (2 three-pointers) and had 4 assists. Adkins scored 4 and had 5 rebounds. Thelen had 3 (1 three-pointer). O’Dell scored 2.

Thompson was selected to the District 1-AA tournament team.

• • •

The loss to Greeneville was the final game for Blue Devil seniors Austin O’Dell, Danny Lowery, Ty Thelen and Gavin Casey.

“They have the program going in the right direction for us,” Smith said. “They did a great job leading us this season. They are a great bunch of guys.”

Despite the loss and a tough season, Smith said he was proud of this group of Blue Devils.

“We didn’t have the season that we wanted to have, but we got it turned around late,” he said. “We played our best basketball at tournament time. We got some big wins in the district tournament and we were able to advance to the region. I don’t think there were a lot of people who thought we would make it to the region, but we did because our guys didn’t give up on the season.”

Loss to Rebels ends Lady Devil basketball season

Caroline Podvin drives to the goal at South Greene. The sophomore guard scored 20 points for the Lady Devils in the season-ending loss. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The 2018-19 basketball season has come to an end for the Unicoi County High School Lady Devils.

On Friday, Feb. 22, the Lady Devils traveled to South Greene to take on the District 2-AA champion Lady Rebels in the first round of the Region 1-AA tournament. The Lady Devils lost a hard-fought game, 83-66.

The Lady Devils got off to a fast start as sophomore Caroline Podvin scored 8 points early in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Lady Devils, the Lady Rebels also got off to a solid start. Both teams took turns trading shots. Junior Ashtan Vance hit a three-pointer to give the Lady Devils a 16-15 late in the first quarter.

The Lady Rebels hit the court to start the second quarter with a 20-16 lead. The two programs took turns scoring and the Lady Rebels held a 33-27 lead with 4 minutes left in the first half. Senior Lady Devil Kaylee Hendrickson sank a three-pointer with 3:49 left in the half to cut the lead to 33-30. Senior Chloe Powers scored on a turnover to bring the Lady Rebels lead down to one point, 33-32. Vance scored from under the glass to give the Lady Devils their last lead of the game, 34-33 with 2:41 left in the half.

South Greene went on a late quarter run and took a 39-34 lead with 1:13 left in the half. Despite a deep three-point shot by senior Allee Griffith, the Lady Rebels held on to a 43-40 lead going into halftime.

The Lady Rebels pulled away in the third taking advantage of turnovers and missed shots by the Lady Devils as depth proved to be a liability in the second half.

“Our rotation of six players only forced us to play tired and we let them have that run in the third quarter, but played them even in the fourth,” head coach Kerri King told The Erwin Record.

Despite sophomore guard Tenley Holt sinking two foul shots at the end of the quarter for the Lady Devils, the Lady Rebels ended the third quarter with a 62-45 lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Lady Rebels continued to pull away despite a pair of Vance three-pointers. The Lady Rebels advanced to play Sullivan South in the second round of the Region 1-AA tournament. The winner of the South Greene and Sullivan South matchup will face the winner of the Elizabethton and Grainger game in the Region 1-AA finals.

Against South Greene, the Lady Devils were led by Podvin, who finished with 20 points. Podvin also had 12 rebounds and 3 steals.

Vance, who went 3-4 from beyond the three-point line, joined Podvin in double digits by putting up 15 points. Griffith capped off the night with 11 points.

“Allee (Griffith) probably had her best game of the season, and she alleviated so much pressure against their press,” King said.

Powers scored 9 points, Hendrickson put up 8 points and Holt contributed 3 points in the loss.

For the Lady Devils, the loss concluded a season that saw the Unicoi squad finish in third place in the Three Rivers Conference with a record of 16-13 and a conference record of 6-6. The preseason coaches poll had the Lady Devils finishing sixth out of seven at the beginning of the season.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from this team,” King said. 

The Lady Devils never stopped fighting from the opening tip of the first game all the way through the last buzzer of Friday’s loss.

“They left it all on the floor and played their hearts out,” King said.

For seniors Hendrickson, Powers and Griffith, the loss at South Greene was their final games as Lady Devils. The three will continue to be teammates next year, as all three have signed on with Milligan College. Hendrickson and Powers will be part of the Lady Buffalo basketball program, and Griffith will be taking her talents to the diamond, as she will be part of the Lady Buffalo softball program.

“Those seniors weren’t going down easy and they battled until the end,” King said.

Podvin, Holt and Vance will be back next season, which is great news for the Lady Devils as the three had an impressive run late in the season.

“Tenley (Holt) had an excellent floor game and handled pressure with maturity,” King said. “Caroline (Podvin) and Ashtan (Vance) played huge for us. They all looked like seasoned veterans and I am so proud of the growth they have shown this season.”

Blue Devil basketball team upsets Happy Valley, Sullivan East in district tournament

Brock Thompson makes his way around a Happy Valley defender during the District 1-AA tournament last week. The sophomore guard scored 15 points in the fourth quarter of the game
to give UCHS a 49-41 victory. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

From Staff Reports

The Unicoi County High School boys basketball team faced elimination from the postseason twice last week – and twice they survived.

“I thought we did a good job responding,” head coach Michael Smith said. “No one expected us to win those games. We told our players to play free and without pressure and that’s what they did.”

As the seventh-place team in the Three Rivers Conference, the Blue Devils (9-22) had to face Happy Valley (7-20), the sixth-place team, in a play-in game for the District 1-AA tournament at Happy Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

The Blue Devils found themselves tied, 24-24, with the Warriors going into the fourth quarter in what had been a back-and-forth game.

“I thought both teams were doing a good job defensively in the first three quarters,” Smith said. “We know each other having played so much. You often see low scoring games in the tournament because of that.”

Following a jumper by Unicoi County’s Caleb Adkins, the Warriors took a brief lead, 27-26, on a three-pointer. Then, Brock Thompson took over the game for the Blue Devils. The sophomore gave UCHS the lead again with a bucket, then drained back-to-back three-pointers for a 34-27 advantage.

“Brock decided we weren’t going to lose and he led us to the win,” Smith said.

The Warriors came up empty on their next possession, then Gavin Casey scored for the Blue Devils. Thompson then stole the ensuing inbounds pass by Happy Valley and scored again to give UCHS a commanding 38-27 lead.

“That steal was a huge play,” Smith said. “Scoring four quick points like that really gave us momentum. It lifted us and deflated them.”

Although the Warriors kept fighting to get back in the game, the Blue Devils held on for a 49-41 win.

“I am proud of all our guys for playing hard in an elimination game,” Smith said.

Thompson scored 20 points (2 three-pointers), 15 of which came in the fourth quarter, to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists in the win. Austin O’Dell scored 9 and had 13 rebounds. Casey scored 8 and had 5 rebounds. Brett Lingerfelt scored 5 (1 three-pointer) and had 3 steals. Danny Lowery scored 4 and had 4 rebounds. Adkins scored 2 and had 4 rebounds. Robbie O’Dell scored 1.

• • •

The victory over Happy Valley set the Blue Devils up to face Sullivan East (17-13), the number three seed in the tournament, on Friday, Feb. 15, at Happy Valley. It was another win-or-go-home game.

Facing a team that had defeated them twice this season, Smith’s team was down 6-0, but decided they weren’t ready to go home just yet.

“We fought back to take a 9-8 lead and we never trailed again,” Smith said.

The Blue Devils took a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and held a 33-27 lead at the half.

“We did a really good job defensively taking them out of what they wanted to do,” Smith said. “We played zone, instead of playing man like we did in our two previous games against them. When we went to our 2-2-1 zone they had some quick turnovers.”

In the third quarter, a basket by Casey and a three-pointer by Thompson gave UCHS a 38-27 lead. The Patriots managed to cut that lead to 6 points, 43-37, before the Blue Devils closed the quarter on an 11-2 run, including a three-pointer at the buzzer by Thompson.

“We answered their runs all night and were able to hold onto the lead,” Smith said. “Brock’s three-pointer was a huge shot. It really gave us momentum.

The teams played almost even basketball in the fourth quarter and UCHS won the game, 70-53.

Thompson scored 29 (5 three-pointers) and had 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the win. Lingerfelt scored 14 (1 three-pointer) and had 3 assists and 3 rebounds in the game. Lowery had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Casey scored 9 and had 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Ty Thelen (1 three-pointer) scored 3. Austin O’Dell scored 2 and had 8 rebounds. Adkins scored 2 and had 5 rebounds in the victory.

Not only did the win over East keep their season alive and advance them to the District 1-AA semifinals, it also gave the Blue Devils a berth in the Region 1-AA tournament.

“Being 7-21 at the end of the regular season, getting to the region looked bleak,” Smith said. “But, we are playing the best we have played all season. Playing the way we are right now is what you want. We are playing our best basketball at the right time.”

• • •

Awaiting the Blue Devils in the semifinals was Elizabethton, the tournament’s second seed. It was obvious in the first half that the Blue Devils had mostly run out of gas.

The Cyclones (21-6) raced out to an 18-10 lead after the first quarter and held a 34-26 lead at halftime.

“They did a great job defensively,” Smith said. “They made things hard for us. We did a good job of fighting back and keeping ourselves within striking distance. We were tired. We had done a lot to get to that game. Elizabethton was fresh and they are athletic.”

The Blue Devils cut the lead to 9 points in the fourth quarter, but the Cyclones were able to stall any chances of a comeback as they won the game, 55-38.

Casey scored 11 points and had 3 rebounds in the loss. Lowery had 9 points and 10 rebounds. Lingerfelt scored 6 (2 three-pointers) and had 3 rebounds. Thompson scored 5 (1 three-pointer). Thelen scored 3 (1 three-pointer). Adkins scored 3 (1 three-pointer) and had 3 rebounds. Phonex Holt scored 1.

• • •

The loss to Elizabethton in the semifinals sent the Blue Devils to the consolation game where they faced the Johnson County Longhorns, the tournament’s top seed, on Tuesday, Feb. 20, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline. The Longhorns (23-5) were upset by Sullivan South (20-11) in the district semifinal. Elizabethton and South played for the district crown on Tuesday.

Win or lose to Johnson County, the Blue Devils will travel to either Chuckey-Doak or Greeneville to open the Region 1-AA tournament on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. A loss on Saturday will end the season for UCHS. With a win on Saturday, the Blue Devils will continue region play on Tuesday at Happy Valley.

Lady Devil basketball takes fourth place in district tournament

Allee Griffith drives to the goal against Johnson County during the District 1-AA tournament at Happy Valley. Griffith scored 9 points in the Lady Devils’ win. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School girls basketball team entered the 2019 District 1-AA Tournament hosted by Happy Valley listed as the three seed on Thursday, Feb. 14. The Valentine’s Day opponent was the Johnson County Lady Longhorns, the seventh seed, who upset the Sullivan East Lady Patriots, the sixth seed, the previous night.

The Lady Devils jumped out to the early lead, 19-14, in the first quarter, but only managed 5 points in the second quarter as ball control issues plagued the Lady Devils in the second quarter. The Lady Longhorns went into halftime with a 27-24 lead.

The Lady Devils made necessary adjustments at halftime and followed the lead of sophomore guard Caroline Podvin, who hit a key three-pointer with 4:03 left in the third to give UCHS a 33-32 lead. The crowd came alive following the three and the Lady Devils capitalized to take a 41-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Devils carried the momentum into the fourth and played very aggressive on both sides of the ball. When the final buzzer sounded, the Lady Devils walked out of Bayless Gym with a 58-50 victory over Johnson County.

Podvin led the Lady Devils with 15 points, while junior guard Ashtan Vance finished the night with 10 points. Senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson and senior post Allee Griffith put up 9 points each for the Lady Devils. Senior guard Chloe Powers scored 8 points, and sophomore guard Tenley Holt ended the night with 7 points in the victory.

“I thought our push in transition in the third quarter changed the momentum and when we opened up the floor Chloe (Powers) got loose and the girls did a great job finding her,” Coach Kerri King told The Erwin Record.

Powers scored 6 of her 8 points in the fourth quarter via two threes.

• • •

The Lady Devils hit a roadblock on Saturday, Feb. 16, when facing the number two seeded Lady Rebels of Sullivan South. The Lady Rebels cruised to a 71-54 victory and a spot in the District 1-AA Championship that was played on Monday, Feb. 18.

The Lady Rebels took advantage of the cold start from the Lady Devils and never looked back. Hendrickson picked up two fouls early in the first quarter. Powers was able to hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 17-9 with 1:03 left in the first quarter.

The Lady Rebels entered the second quarter with a 19-9 lead and that is when South rallied behind the hot hand of Alex Harris, who ended up sinking five three-pointers in the first half of play and scored 25 points on the night.

The Lady Rebels took the lead into halftime by a score of 39-22. Vance, Podvin, and Holt all sank three-pointers in the third quarter, but the Lady Rebels countered and held a 51-38 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Griffith hit a three with 47 seconds left to play, but it was too little, too late for the Lady Devils, who ended up losing 71-54.

Leading the way for the Lady Devils was Podvin who scored 19 points. Powers and Holt scored 9 points each in the loss. Griffith scored 7. Hendrickson and Vance each scored 5.

The loss placed the Lady Devils in the consolation game against the Sullivan Central Lady Cougars, the tournament’s top seed. The Lady Cougars were upset in the second round of the District 1-AA tournament by the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones. The Lady Cyclones are the only Three Rivers Conference team to beat Sullivan Central this year and they have done so twice in a two-week span. The Lady Cyclones played the Lady Rebels for the District 1-AA Championship on Monday, Feb. 18.

• • •

The Lady Devils lost a heartbreaker against the Lady Cougars of Sullivan Central on Monday, Feb. 18. The Lady Devils led the whole game, but lost the lead with a little more than a minute to play. The Lady Cougars won 62-59 to take third place in the District 1-AA tournament.

The Lady Devils hit the floor running and jumped out to a 13-8 lead to end the first quarter. The Lady Devils held Peyton Sams to 2 points and post Abby Crawford to 1 point in the first quarter. The duo for Central remained quiet until the fourth quarter when Sams erupted for 11 points and Crawford put up 10 points. Crawford finished the night with 19 points and Sams put up 17 points on the night.

The Lady Devils held onto the lead, 32-19 going, into halftime. Griffith started the third quarter with a three-pointer from way downtown to fire up the crowd. The Lady Devils and Lady Cougars took turns sinking buckets to bring the score to 44-35 in favor of Unicoi County going into the fourth quarter.

Sams hit a key three-pointer in the fourth to tie the game up for the first time 56-56 with 1:05 left. The Lady Cougars took the lead when a foul by Powers sent Sams to the foul line with 34.4 seconds left. Sams sank both free throws to put the Lady Cougars up 58-56.

The Lady Devils regained the lead, 59-58, when Podvin hit a three-pointer from the corner with 23.5 left in the fourth. Sams then scored to put the Lady Cougars up 60-59.

After a missed shot by the Lady Devils, Sams was fouled with 3 seconds left and sank both foul shots to give the Lady Cougars a 62-59 lead. The Lady Devils were not able to score on a last-second shot, and the Lady Cougars held on to win 62-59.

Hendrickson and Holt led the Lady Devils with 16 points each. Griffith put up 11 points and Podvin scored 10 points in the loss. Vance scored 4 points and Powers finished the night with 2 points.

In the District 1-AA championship game, the fifth seed Elizabethton Lady Cyclones pulled the upset over the Sullivan South Lady Rebels by a score of 56-42.

The District 1-AA All-Tournament team included: Podvin from Unicoi County; Crawford and Sams from Sullivan Central; Mollie Leslie, Carissa Comsa and Harris from Sullivan South; Morgan Headrick, Kaylen Shell, and Tori Roberts from Elizabethton. The MVP was Kaitlyn Bailey from Elizabethton.

• • •

The Region 1-AA tournament will begin on Friday, Feb. 22, with the following matchups: District 2-AA fourth seed Cumberland Gap will travel to District 1-AA champion Elizabethton; District 1-AA three seed Sullivan Central will travel to District 2-AA two seed Grainger County

District 1-AA fourth seed Unicoi County will travel to District 2-AA champion South Greene; and District 2-AA three seed Greeneville will travel to District 1-AA two seed Sullivan South.

All games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

A loss to South Greene will end the season for the Lady Devils. With a win, they will play on Monday, Feb. 25, at Happy Valley.

Blue Devil basketball team wraps up regular season

Brock Thompson goes in for a layup against David Crockett. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

After struggling for several weeks to get a victory, the Unicoi County High School boys basketball team ended the regular season last week with two wins in three games. These victories may have given the Blue Devils (7-21, 2-10) needed momentum going into this week’s District 1-AA tournament.

“I feel like we are playing a lot better,” UCHS head coach Michael Smith said. “We are playing better defensively, but we are doing a much better job offensively. We are getting shots to go and the guys are playing with more confidence.”

Johnson County is the tournament’s top seed. Elizabethton is second, Sullivan East is third, Sullivan South is fourth and Sullivan Central is fifth.

The seventh-place Blue Devils will face the sixth-place Happy Valley Warriors (7-19, 3-7) in the district play-in game on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Happy Valley. The teams split their conference games this season, with the Blue Devils winning in Carter County in December and the Warriors winning in Erwin in January.

“We feel confident that we have a good chance to win,” Smith said. “We won by double digits at their place earlier in the season, then only lost by 4 points at home during a stretch when we were not playing well.”

If the Blue Devils defeat the Warriors, they will play Sullivan East on Friday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. at Happy Valley. A victory over East will set up a semifinal matchup with Elizabethton on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m.

A loss to Happy Valley or Sullivan East will end the season. If the Blue Devils make it to the semifinal round, they will automatically qualify for the Region 1-AA tournament.

Sullivan South and Sullivan Central will play on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game will face Johnson County on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the semifinals. The district championship will be played on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m.; the consolation game will be played that same day at 6 p.m.

• • •

On Feb. 5, the Blue Devils went on the road to defeat the Sullivan Central Cougars, 60-55, in their final Three Rivers Conference game of the season. 

“We did a great job defensively, especially late in the second half,” Smith said.

In a back-and-forth game, the Blue Devils made plays down the stretch to seal the victory, including clutch free throw shooting by Brett Lingerfelt, who made 5-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute. The team made almost 70 percent of their free throws in the win.

Lingerfelt scored 20 points (3 three-pointers) and had 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Gavin Casey scored 17 and had 8 rebounds. Danny Lowery had 6 points. Phoenix Holt scored 6 (1 three-pointer). Brock Thompson scored 4. Robbie O’Dell and Nicholas Hensley each scored 3. Austin O’Dell scored 1.

• • •

The Blue Devils lost to David Crockett, 59-52, in non-conference action on Friday, Feb. 8, in Erwin. The Pioneers held a 22-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter and rode that to the victory.

“We did not play well early,” Smith said. “We played better in the second half, but we couldn’t really cut into the lead.”

Thompson led the Blue Devils in scoring with 21 points (5 three-pointers) against Crockett. Lowery scored 10. Lingerfelt had 8 (2 three-pointers). Casey had 5. Caleb Adkins and Austin O’Dell each had 3. Ty Thelen had 2.

• • •

The following evening, the Blue Devils bounced back with a 48-37 victory over Cloudland in Erwin on senior night. Things didn’t get off to a great start for UCHS as the Highlanders took a 12-7 lead after the first quarter. The Blue Devils made adjustments and started chipping away at Cloudland’s advantage.

“We extended our zone and covered their shooters better as the game went along,” Smith said. 

The Blue Devils reclaimed the lead in the third quarter and led 33-30 going into the final frame. They outscored the Highlanders 15-7 in the fourth to hold on for the win.

Thompson scored 18 points (3 three-pointers) against Cloudland. Lingerfelt scored 15 (2 three-pointers). Casey scored 5. Austin O’Dell scored 4. Robbie O’Dell, Adkins and Lowery each scored 2.

Lady Devil basketball team takes third place in Three Rivers Conference

Chloe Powers finds a path to the goal against David Crockett. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School girls basketball team finished the season in streaky fashion.

The Lady Devils (15-10, 6-6) dropped a road game with the Three Rivers Conference leader Sullivan Central, before returning home to beat non-conference foe David Crockett and lose a heartbreaker on senior night against visiting Cloudland.

The Lady Devils traveled to Sullivan County on Feb. 5 to end the undefeated conference streak the Lady Cougars had over the Three Rivers Conference. The Lady Cougars entered the game with a 10-0 conference record. Unfortunately for the Lady Devils, the Lady Cougars remained undefeated in conference play for a few more days, as the Lady Cougars cruised past the Lady Devils 55-30.

The Lady Cougars were led by Abbey Crawford who scored 18 and Peyton Sams who finished with 14 points. The Lady Cougars jumped out to 19-8 first quarter lead and never looked back.

The Lady Devils could not find a shooter to rally behind on the night but they did manage to get several players involved in the game.

“We went 2-23 from the three-point line and we went 9-39 from two-point field goals,” UCHS Lady Devil Coach Kerri King told The Erwin Record.

Sophomore guard Caroline Podvin led the Lady Devils with 9 points and senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson accounted for 5 points in the loss. Senior guard Chloe Powers, senior post Allee Griffith and sophomore guard Tenley Holt each scored 4 points each on the night. Junior guard Ashtan Vance and junior guard Kaylia Street each put up 2 points in the loss.

The loss concluded conference play for the Lady Devils, who finished with a 6-6 record. The Lady Cougars went on to drop their last game of the season to conference rival Elizabethton on Friday, Feb. 8, bringing the Lady Cougars conference record to 11-1.

“We were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams and we finished third,” King said. “I’m proud of their hard work and commitment to each other.”

King and the Lady Devil’s don’t have time to reflect on the season, as tournament time has arrived. “Basketball seasons are long and teams that are resilient finish strong in postseason,” King said. “We fit that trait and we are just refocusing on our first tournament game.”

The final standings for the 2018-2019 Three Rivers Conference are: Sullivan Central, 18-10 (11-1) in first place; Sullivan South, 16-10 (8-4) in second place; Unicoi County, 15-10 (6-6) in third place; Happy Valley, 16-10 (5-7) in fourth place; Elizabethton, 7-21 (5-7) in fifth place; Sullivan East, 13-17 (4-8) in sixth place; and Johnson County, 12-14 (3-9) in seventh place.

The 2019 District 1-AA tournament kicks off on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. with a play-in game pitting the Johnson County Lady Longhorns against the Sullivan East Lady Patriots.

The Unicoi County Lady Devils will face the winner of that play-in game on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. Also playing on Thursday, Feb. 14 are Happy Valley and Elizabethton beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Number one seed Sullivan Central and number two seed Sullivan South received first-round byes. Central will play the winner of the Happy Valley/Elizabethton game on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 p.m. South will play the winner of the Unicoi County versus Sullivan East/Johnson County game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The district championship game will be played on Monday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. The consolation game will be played on Monday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m.

All District 1-AA games will be played at Happy Valley High School, 121 Warpath Lane, in Elizabethton.

• • •

The Lady Devils returned home to face their non-conference rival from the other side of the Nolichucky River on Friday, Feb. 8, as the David Crockett Lady Pioneers came to town. The Lady Devils beat the Lady Pioneers 60-43.

The Lady Pioneers went toe to toe with the Lady Devils in the first quarter, but by halftime the Lady Devils had pulled away to lead the game 26-17.

Podvin led the Lady Devils in scoring for the second game in a row and finished with 14 points. Powers had a double-double on the night finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Vance put up 12 points in the victory. Holt had 9 points and Hendrickson accounted for 8 points and 6 assists for the night. Adding 4 points to secure the victory was Griffith.

• • •

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Lady Devils hosted their second game in less than 24 hours, when the Cloudland Lady Highlanders came into Unicoi for the season finale. UCHS celebrated senior night and hoped for a victory, but lost a heartbreaker to send seniors Hendrickson, Powers and Griffith off. The Lady Highlanders won 45-44.

The Lady Devils could not find a rhythm early and the Lady Highlanders jumped out to a 13-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Lady Devils closed in on the lead and went into halftime trailing the Lady Highlanders by six points.

During the third quarter, the Lady Devils began to look fatigued from playing two games in a 24-hour period. Three-point shots were coming up just a few inches short for the Lady Devils. The Lady Highlanders stretched their lead to 38-25 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Devils rallied following a key breakaway score from Vance and a three-pointer by Griffith. Holt later missed a three-pointer, but cleared her own board and drew a shooting foul and after sinking the foul shots, cut the lead down to 42-36 in favor of Cloudland.

Griffith sank a basket and drew a foul to complete a three-point play that brought the score to 44-39 with 1:53 left in the fourth. Vance hit a clutch three-pointer to bring the score to 44-42 with 1:40 left, giving the Lady Devils a chance to complete the comeback.

With seconds left and the score at 45-44 in favor of the Lady Highlanders, several Lady Devils put up shots, but none fell and the Lady Highlanders left Unicoi with a one-point victory.

Podvin finished her third game in a row as the leading scorer for the Lady Devils with 11 points. The three seniors who were playing their last regular season home game at the Devils’ Den joined Podvin in leading the Lady Devils in scoring. Powers finished with 10 points, Griffith put up 8 points, and Hendrickson added 5 points to the team’s final score. Vance also had 5 points and Holt had 3 points in the loss. Junior post player Jayla Stockfelt scored 2.

Blue Devil basketball team defeats Chuckey-Doak

Phoenix Holt goes up for a layup against Chuckey-Doak. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

The Unicoi County High School boys basketball team came away with a much-needed victory over the weekend.

After falling behind early in the game, the Blue Devils (5-20, 1-10) rallied to reclaim the lead and defeat Chuckey-Doak (11-11), 50-45, on Saturday, Feb. 2 in Erwin.

“We got down early, but we fought back to tie the game by the end of the first,” Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith said. “It was a back-and-forth game the whole way, but we did what we had to do to win it.”

Clutch free throw shooting by Brock Thompson and Brett Lingerfelt in the final minute helped the Blue Devils hold on for the win, which ended the team’s recent losing streak.

“It has taken a lot of pressure off of us,” Smith said of ending the streak. “The guys don’t seem to be playing so tight now. They are playing more loose and free. We had one of our best practices after the win.”

Throughout the streak, the Blue Devils were competitive in most games.

“We have played well in a lot of games,” Smith said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump to get a win. Against Chuckey-Doak we did things down the stretch that we haven’t been doing. We took care of the ball, made shots and free throws. Those things weren’t happening for us before.”

Gavin Casey led the Blue Devils in scoring against the Black Knights with 14 points, all in the second half. Thompson scored 13 (3 three-pointers). Ty Thelen scored 5 (1 three-pointer). Danny Lowery scored 4. Phoenix Holt and Caleb Adkins each scored 3 points.

• • •

The Blue Devils gave conference-leading Elizabethton all they could handle, but turnovers in the final minutes of the game allowed the Cyclones (18-5) to escape with a victory.

“We shot the ball well and played well against the top team in the league standings on their floor,” Smith said.

The Blue Devils raced out to a 13-9 lead, then closed the first quarter on a 7-2 run to lead 20-11 after one. The Cyclones responded in the second quarter, outscoring UCHS 21-12 for a 32-32 tie at halftime.

They played better than us in the second quarter,” Smith said.

In the third quarter, the Cyclones again outscored the Blue Devils and held a 49-44 lead going into the final eight minutes of play.

“We were down five going into the fourth quarter and in a good spot against one of the three best teams in the league,” Smith said.

A bucket by Casey and a three-pointer by Thompson, both of which were assisted by Thelen, tied the game at 49. The teams traded buckets, including one by Casey, for another tie at 51. A three-pointer by the Cyclones put them up 54-51 before Thelen scored for a 54-53 score.

Elizabethton then scored 4 unanswered points before Casey scored again. Following a timeout by Smith with just over 4 minutes to play in the game, Elizabethton scored again and held a 60-55 lead.

Casey scored 2 more points and the Blue Devil defense kept the Cyclones from scoring. On the next UCHS possession, Austin O’Dell grabbed an offensive rebound and the ball found its way to Lingerfelt. The junior drove through the lane, hit a floater and was fouled. The three-point play tied the game at 60 with just over 2 minutes to play.

The Cyclones then scored and called a timeout with a 62-60 lead. Then, three turnovers in the final minutes gave Elizabethton the possessions they needed to hold on for a 70-65 victory.

“Untimely turnovers have been hard on us all season long,” Smith said.

Thompson scored 19 points (5 three-pointers) in the loss. Casey had 18 points and 4 rebounds. Robbie O’Dell had 11 points (2 three-pointers). Thelen had 7 points (1 three-pointer). Lingerfelt had 6 points (1 three-pointer) and 6 assists. Lowery had 2 points and 6 rebounds. Austin O’Dell and 2 points and 9 rebounds.

• • •

The Blue Devils are currently in last place in the conference standings. Elizabethton sits at the top of the league with a 10-1 record. Johnson County is second at 9-2. Sullivan South and Sullivan East are both 5-5. Sullivan Central is fifth at 4-6. Happy Valley is sixth at 2-8.

The Blue Devils played their final conference game of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Sullivan Central.

They are scheduled to host non-conference opponents David Crockett on Friday, Feb. 8, and Cloudland on Saturday, Feb. 9. Prior to the start of the varsity game on Saturday, the program will honor its senior members. Varsity games are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Lady Devil basketball team drops to third place in league

Abigail Rush keeps her eyes on the hoop against Chuckey-Doak. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

As the regular season winds down, the Unicoi County High School Lady Devil basketball team dropped a crucial conference game and picked up a non-conference victory all in a 24-hour span.

The Lady Devils (14-8, 6-5) traveled to Elizabethton on Friday, Feb. 1, and dropped a league game against the Lady Cyclones by a margin of 50-38. The Three Rivers Conference match-up featured a UCHS team that had been separating from the rest of the pack and a streaky Lady Cyclone team.

The Lady Devils could not find an answer for the Lady Cyclones junior Kaylen Shell, who finished the game with 13 points, or for sophomore Morgan Headrick, who scored 12 points on the night.

Leading the way for the Lady Devils in the loss was senior guard Chloe Powers who carried the team with 17 points. Despite Powers dropping points all over the court, there was little relief to keep the Lady Cyclones from running away with the game.

Senior post Allee Griffith finished with 8 points for UCHS, while sophomore guard Caroline Podvin accounted for 6 points on the night. Sophomore guard Tenley Holt put up 5 points and junior guard Kaylia Street scored 2 points in the loss.

The loss dropped the Lady Devils to third place in the league behind first place Sullivan Central at 10-0 and second place Sullivan South at 6-4.

• • •

During a weekend showdown with Chuckey-Doak the real Lady Devils showed up as Kerri King’s team cruised past the struggling Lady Knights, 66-33, on Saturday, Feb. 2.

The Lady Devils were led by Holt, who has really hit her stride the past month for UCHS. Holt finished the night with 15 points.

Powers had another solid night scoring 12 points. Griffith put up 10 points in the win. Podvin, who like Holt has really begun to hit her stride in the past month, scoring 8. Senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson also scored 8 points. Sophomore guard Leah Edney put up 7 points in the victory. Street finished with 4 points and freshman Marissa Soulier scored 2 in the win.

• • •

The Lady Devils did not have too much time to celebrate the victory as they began preparing for a marquee Three Rivers Conference matchup with the conference-leading Sullivan Central Lady Cougars. The game was played on Tuesday, Feb. 5, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline. The game concluded the conference season for the Lady Devils.

Following the trip to Sullivan County, the Lady Devils return to the Devil’s Den to close out the season. They will host the David Crockett Lady Pioneers on Friday, Feb. 8, and finish the season at home versus the Cloudland Lady Highlanders on Saturday, Feb. 9. Saturday will be senior night for UCHS. Varsity games are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Lady Devils stay in second place

Caroline Podvin drives to the goal for a layup at Sullivan South on Jan. 22. Podvin scored 10 points in the game. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School girls basketball team split two road conference games last week before returning home for a key league win on Monday, Jan. 25.

The Lady Devils (13-7, 6-4) traveled to Sullivan South on Tuesday, Jan. 22, for a matchup that pitted the second-place Lady Devils against the third-place Lady Rebels.

Head coach Kerri King’s team led the way throughout the game at South, but ran out of gas to lose a heartbreaker in overtime, 48-47.

The Lady Devils held a 40-30 lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game, but South moved quickly to tie it up and send the game into overtime.

Senior guard Chloe Powers led the Lady Devils in scoring with 17 points, and finished with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in the loss. Scoring 10 points for the Lady Devils was sophomore guard Caroline Podvin.

Senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson and sophomore guard Tenley Holt each had 8 points on the night. Hendrickson grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Scoring 2 points each were junior guard Ashtan Vance and senior post Allee Griffith. Vance, who had been out due to an ankle injury, grabbed 4 rebounds in the game. Griffith pulled down 12 boards and finished with 2 steals and 2 assists on the night.

• • •

On Friday, Jan. 25, the Lady Devils made the long trip to Johnson County to square off with the Lady Longhorns. The Lady Devils left Johnson County with a 39-28 victory. Johnson County had defeated UCHS in Erwin in December.

The Lady Devils played a very physical and aggressive game at Johnson County on Friday. King utilized every available second to coach her players and to control the tempo of the game.

The Lady Devils held onto a 17-14 halftime lead against the home team and never looked back as they controlled the clock the rest of the game.

“We were patient against Johnson County’s matchup zone, and managed our lead at the end of the game,” King told The Erwin Record.

The Lady Devils shared scoring duties on Friday’s game, and were led by Holt, who finished with 10 points. Hendrickson and Griffith scored 9 points each and Podvin put up 6 points in the victory. Powers scored 3 points and Vance finished the night with 2 points.

Griffith grabbed 13 boards and added a steal and an assist to her stats. Podvin pulled down 6 rebounds and added an assist and a steal as well. Powers finished the night with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out 1 assist was Vance. Holt finished with 2 rebounds and an assist, and junior guard Kayla Street had 1 rebound and a steal in the victory. Hendrickson grabbed one board, had one steal, and dished out 4 assists against the Lady Longhorns.

The Lady Devils attacked the boards and played an up-tempo defense all night long.

“Our communication on defense was fantastic,” King said.

King said she feels good about this team as they head down the stretch in conference play.

“That was a growing step for us because against South, we didn’t use game sense late,” King said.

• • •

The Lady Devils returned back to the friendly confines of the Devils’ Den to take on conference foe Sullivan East in a key Three Rivers matchup. The Lady Devils pulled out a 66-61 overtime victory against the Lady Patriots in a game that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, but was played on Monday, Jan. 28, due to pending weather conditions.

The Lady Devils rallied behind the hot hand of Hendrickson, who accounted for 19 points. Hendrickson also had 6 assists and 4 boards. Podvin finished the game with a double-double, scoring 14 points and 13 rebounds. Podvin also had 4 blocks. Joining Podvin with a double-double was Griffith, who scored 10 points and grabbed 13 boards.

Putting up 11 points and 7 rebounds in the win was Powers. Holt and Vance each scored 6 points. Holt had 8 boards, while Vance had 10 rebounds on the night.

“The team had an impressive 55 rebounds for the night,” King told The Erwin Record.

King was very impressed with her team and their resiliency.

“Ashtan Vance and Tenley Holt did a great job with East’s point guard,” King said.

• • •

As they inch closer to tournament play, the Lady Devils look ahead to several key matchups this week. The Lady Devils travel to Carter County to face off against conference rival Elizabethton Lady Cyclones on Friday, Feb. 1.

The Lady Devils come home to Unicoi County for a non-conference matchup against the Chuckey-Doak Lady Knights on Saturday, Feb. 2. On Tuesday, Feb. 5, The Lady Devils finish conference play by traveling to Sullivan County to take on Three Rivers Conference leader Sullivan Central in a key game. All game varsity are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Blue Devil basketball team drops league games

Brett Lingerfelt goes up for a layup at Sullivan South. The junior guard had 11 points in the loss on Jan. 22. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

A chance for a victory just slipped out of the hands of the Unicoi County High School boys basketball team last week.

After fighting back from a double-digit deficit to reclaim the lead, turnovers in the final seconds doomed the Blue Devils (4-19, 1-9) against the Sullivan South Rebels on Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Three Rivers Conference play.

“We were disappointed in that loss,” Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith said. “We had 25 turnovers in that games, including 4 in the last minute or so.”

Thanks to two baskets by Danny Lowery and one by Austin O’Dell, the Blue Devils were tied, 6-6, with the Rebels in the first quarter of last week’s game. South then closed the opening quarter on a 14-3 run to lead 20-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Blue Devil Brett Lingerfelt opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, but the Rebels answered with a three-pointer of their own for a 23-12 lead. Then, Blue Devil Gavin Casey took control of the game. The senior guard scored 7 unanswered points, then assisted on a three by Robbie O’Dell, bringing the Blue Devils within 1 point, 23-22 with three minutes to play in the half.

The Rebels fought back to take a 30-24 lead before Blue Devil L.J. Mitchell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback for a 30-26 score at halftime.

“I thought we did a great job getting back in the game,” Smith said. “We started doing a better job defensively and made them take tough shots.”

Lingerfelt, Austin O’Dell, Brock Thompson, Phoenix Holt and Casey all scored in the third quarter; however, the Rebels were able to add to their lead and take a 52-45 lead into the final quarter.

“I felt like we had a chance,” Smith said of going into the fourth quarter at South. “We needed to make some plays on both ends of the floor to get back in the game and have a chance to win.”

Smith’s team did chip away at that lead in the fourth quarter. Following his offensive rebound, a three-point play by Lowery brought the Blue Devils within 1 point, 55-54. Moments later, Austin O’Dell tied the game with a free throw.

South immediately answered with a bucket. Following a timeout by Smith with 2 minutes to play, Lingerfelt drove down the lane and scored on a layup to tie the game again at 57.

The Blue Devils forced a missed shot by the Rebels and Austin O’Dell was fouled on the rebound. He hit both free throws to give UCHS a 59-57 advantage with seconds to play.

Things then went off the rails for the Blue Devils. Two turnovers against South’s full-court pressure led to 4 points for the Rebels and a 61-59 victory.

Casey scored 14 points with 6 rebounds and 4 assists in the loss. Lingerfelt scored 11 points (3 three-pointers) and had 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Austin O’Dell had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Lowery scored 7. Thompson scored 7 (2 three-pointers) and had 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Holt scored 5. Robbie O’Dell scored 3 (1 three-pointer). Mitchell scored 2.

• • •

Things didn’t get any better for the Blue Devils in the following days as they lost by double figures to conference rivals Johnson County and Sullivan East.

On Friday, Jan. 25, UCHS traveled to Mountain City to face the Longhorns and left with a 79-46 loss. The Blue Devils struggled from the field, particularly from the three-point line – making only 1 of their 16 attempts.

“You can’t take anything away from Johnson County,” Smith said. “They are one of the best teams in our league. They shot the ball very well and probably played one of the best games of the season against us.”

Thompson had 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the loss at Johnson County. Casey had 7 points and 4 rebounds. Lingerfelt scored 5 points (1 three-pointer).

On Monday, Jan. 28, the Blue Devils fell to Sullivan East, 74-41, in Erwin.

“They played one of their best games all year against us,” Smith said. “They showed why they were picked at the top of the league in the preseason.”

Thompson scored 21 points in the loss. There were no other UCHS players in double figures.

• • •

The Blue Devils are scheduled to travel to Elizabethton for a conference game on Friday, Feb. 1. They will host Chuckey-Doak in non-conference play on Saturday, Feb. 2.

A trip to conference foe Sullivan Central on Tuesday, Feb. 5, also awaits the Blue Devils. All varsity games are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Middle school girls win tourney, boys take second

The Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Lady Devil basketball team, pictured above, won the conference championship last week. The team continued play in the area tournament. (Photo contributed by Natalie Bridges)

From Staff Reports

The Unicoi County Middle School varsity girls basketball team brought a championship home last week.

The Jr. Lady Devils opened their conference tournament on Jan. 12 with a 39-5 victory over Bluff City at Blountville. Two days later, the team defeated Sullivan North, 45-9.

“We played really well in the first two games,” Jr. Lady Devil head coach Lauren Trivette said. “Our defense was strong, holding teams to 5 and 9 points. Jocelyn Metcalf hit some big three-pointers for us in both games having 12 in the first game and 13 in the second game. Laurel Osborne and Faith Bennett rebounded hard and got us multiple shot opportunities.”

The victories set up a championship showdown with Holston on Thursday, Jan. 17. Early in this game, things did not go well for the Jr. Lady Devils.

“We struggled early in the championship game,” Trivette said. “Holston ran a triangle-and-two (defense) on us taking away Jocelyn Metcalf and Faith Bennett, who score a lot for me. Allie Lingerfelt worked hard getting to the rim, but just couldn’t get her shot to fall.”

The struggles left Trivette’s team down by 9 points in the fourth quarter. However, the Jr. Lady Devils weren’t going down without a fight.

“We started pressing and Faith got a couple of steals and easy buckets to get us fired up,” Trivette said. “Our intensity came back and we fought back hard to win the game with a great shot by Destiny Bridges with about 10 seconds to go. We played solid defense to force them to take a quick shot that they missed and ended up with a win.”

The Jr. Lady Devils won the game and the championship with a 26-25 victory.

“My girls played their hearts out that game and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the game,” Trivette said. “They have such a desire to win and it showed when they had to come back from being down by 9.”

Bridges led the team in scoring against Holston with 11 points. She and Bennett were named to the all-tournament team. Metcalf was chosen as the tournament’s MVP.

With the conference tournament behind them, the Jr. Lady Devils moved on to the area tournament where they opened play on Saturday, Jan. 19,  at Sevier Middle School in Kingsport. The team defeated Vance, 44-15, to advance in postseason play.

“I had a lot of girls contribute that game,” Trivette said. “Jocelyn Metcalf led the team with 9 points. Laurel Osborne, Faith Bennett and Olivia Bailey all had 8 points. Destiny Bridges had 7.”

The Jr. Lady Devils faced T.A. Dugger in the area tournament at Sevier on Tuesday, Jan. 22, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

• • •

Led by head coach Ken Hilliard, the Jr. Blue Devil varsity basketball team took second place in the conference tournament. The Jr. Blue Devils lost to Holston, 36-28, in the championship game. Jr. Blue Devils Lucas Slagle and Sam McGee made the all-tournament team.

“We played very well defensively as a team throughout the tournament,” Hilliard said.

Despite the loss, the team advanced to the area tournament. In that competition, they defeated Vance Middle School, 39-34, on Saturday, Jan. 19. Slagle had 18 points and Grant Hensley had 9. Slagle and McGee both had double-figure rebounds.

Then, UCMS defeated Sevier Middle School, 47-40, on their home floor to stay alive in the postseason on Monday, Jan. 21. McGee scored 18 and Slagle scored 14. Each grabbed more than 10 rebounds.

“Our bench played very well and held us together during foul trouble and fatigue,” Hilliard said. “Canaan Webb, Eli Riddell and Eli Hendrix came off the bench and played well in both games. Our other starters, Brayden Hendrickson and Hunter Clouse, are excellent defenders and make things tough on the other teams. Grant Hensley is our best shooter and a good defender. He has made a lot of shots late in close games this year, including both tournament games.”

The next game for the Jr. Blue Devils will be Thursday, Jan. 24, against T.A. Dugger in the area championship at Sevier.

Win or lose that game, the Jr. Blue Devils will advance to the sectional tournament, which will be played at Hardin Valley. The next game will take place on either Saturday, Jan. 26, or Monday, Jan. 28.

Lady Devil basketball team moves into second place in Three Rivers Conference

Leah Edney drives to the hoop against Happy Valley. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

It was the tale of two Unicoi County High School girls basketball teams (11-6, 4-3) last week. The Lady Devils started the week off with a road loss to non-conference foe Cloudland on Tuesday, Jan. 15. On Friday, Jan. 18, the Lady Devils bounced back and returned home to defeat league opponent Happy Valley, to take over possession of second place in the Three Rivers Conference.

Cloudland, who is in second place in the Mountain East Conference, defeated the Lady Devils 63-49 on Jan. 15. The Lady Highlanders were led by senior Trinity Vines who scored 24 on the night.

The Lady Devils did not have an answer for Vines and to make matters worse for the Lady Devils they lost junior guard Ashtan Vance to an ankle injury. Vance could be out for a week or more with an ankle sprain.

Leading the way for the Lady Devils in the loss was sophomore guard Caroline Podvin with 17 points. The three seniors finished the night with 25 combined points for the Lady Devils – guard Chloe Powers scored 10 points, while guard Kaylee Hendrickson put up 8 points and post Allee Griffith finished the night with 7 points. Vance put up 5 points before her injury, and sophomore guard Leah Edney scored 2 points in the loss.

• • •

The Lady Devils returned to the Devils’ Den on Friday, Jan. 18, to a fiery crowd for their key Three Rivers Conference matchup against the Happy Valley Lady Warriors.

The Lady Warriors came into the matchup in second place and left Unicoi County in fourth place after losing to the Lady Devils 41-31. The victory elevated the Lady Devils from third place to second place in the Three Rivers Conference.

The Lady Devils had to play without a key component to their team, as Vance sat out against the Lady Warriors.

“Ashtan sprained her ankle against Cloudland, but we are hoping to have her back next week,” head coach Kerri King told The Erwin Record.

The Lady Devils took control of the game in the first quarter and never looked back. King’s team was able to control the tempo of the game, disrupt shots and most importantly they were able slow down the Lady Warriors key scorer, senior guard Adrienne Henegar. Henegar had been averaging 17.6 points a game entering the contest and the Lady Devils held her to single digits. “We did a fantastic job holding Henegar to just three points, and keeping them off of the offensive glass,” King said of her team.

Sophomore guard Tenley Holt lit up the scoreboard with 13 points and played aggressively on both sides of the ball. Griffith, who also played a very physical game, scored 9 points. Powers and Podvin each scored 7 points. Hendrickson finished with 4 points and Edney had 1 point in the key conference victory.

The physicality displayed by the Lady Devils is a promising sign for the rest of the season as the Lady Devils move forward in conference play.

“Our conference is a dog fight and you better be ready to scrap,” King said of the Three Rivers Conference.

With less than a month to go in the season, every game is crucial in the Three Rivers Conference as five games separate the top team in the conference, Sullivan Central (14-9, 7-0) from the last place team Elizabethton (3-12, 2-5.)

“Every next game is the biggest game of the season and we have to come prepared every night,” King told The Erwin Record.

• • •

The Lady Devils traveled to Sullivan South to take on the Lady Rebels in conference play on Tuesday, Jan. 22, after The Erwin Record’s deadline.

The Lady Devils then travel to Johnson County on Friday, Jan. 25, to face the Lady Longhorns in conference play.

The Lady Devils will return home on Tuesday, Jan. 29, against the red hot Sullivan East Lady Patriots in a key Three Rivers matchup. Tipoff for all the games is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Blue Devil basketball team loses close games to Cloudland, Happy Valley

Robbie O’Dell keeps his dribble alive against Happy Valley. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

Two wins slipped through the fingers of the Unicoi County High School boys’ basketball team (4-16, 1-6) last week.

“We are staying positive and working every day to get better,” Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith said. “We are trying to get things turned around in a positive manner. We are trying to work on playing well for a full 32. We want to see what happens if we play for a full 32 minutes.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, the Blue Devils found themselves trailing by 15 points, 49-34, in the fourth quarter at Cloudland High School against the Highlanders (7-13) in non-conference play. Sparked by a four-point play by Brett Lingerfelt, the Blue Devils rallied to cut the lead to two points, 51-49. Brock Thompson, Caleb Adkins and Robbie O’Dell all contributed points in this run. The Blue Devils’ full-court pressure rattled the Highlanders and helped them get back in the game.

“I think it got us more energized and more into the game,” Smith said of the pressure. “We still weren’t making shots, but our defense was better and we were rebounding better. Once we got down, we played with a greater sense of urgency. A lot of the games we have played lately have been that way. We get down, then play harder.”

The Highlanders then made 4 of 6 opportunities from the free throw line to build a 54-49 lead.

Cloudland took a 58-53 lead with around 2 minutes to play before a three-pointer by Thompson brought UCHS within two points again, 58-56.

Although they had struggled from the line in the final quarter, making only 14 of 27 attempts, the Highlanders hit their final 4 free throws to seal the 63-59 victory.

Thompson led the Blue Devils in scoring with 22 points (2 three-pointers). He also had 6 rebounds and 6 steals. Caleb Adkins scored 9 points and had 5 rebounds. Lingerfelt scored 8 points (2 three-pointers) and had 3 steals. Gavin Casey scored 6 points and had 12 rebounds. Phoenix Holt scored 5 points and had 5 assists. Robbie O’Dell scored 4 points. Danny Lowery and Austin O’Dell (6 rebounds) each scored 2 points. L.J. Mitchell scored 1 point.

The Blue Devils are scheduled to host the Highlanders in Erwin on Feb. 9.

• • •

The Happy Valley Warriors (5-16, 1-6) won their first Three Rivers Conference game of the season when they defeated the Blue Devils, 45-41, in Erwin on Friday, Jan. 18.

Smith’s team found themselves playing from behind the entire game as the Warriors took a 12-4 lead at the end of the first. Happy Valley took a 25-18 lead into halftime.

“We weren’t getting after it like we needed to,” Smith said.

Happy Valley’s lead reached double figures, 33-23, with around 4 minutes to play in the third quarter.

“The third quarter all season long has been the worst quarter for us as far as getting outscored,” Smith said.

The Blue Devils then closed the quarter on a 7-0 run thanks to points by Adkins, Lingerfelt, Austin O’Dell and Thompson. The Warriors led 33-30 going into the final eight minutes of play.

“After we got down, again we felt a sense of urgency,” Smith said. “We decided to do a better job on both ends of the floor.”

The Blue Devils tied the game at 39 following a steal and a basket by Casey.

Offensive rebounding by the Warriors then put them up for good. Following an offensive rebound, Happy Valley went to the free throw line, making 1 of 2. On the miss, the Warriors grabbed another offensive rebound and the Blue Devils fouled. This lead to 2 made free throws for Happy Valley and a 42-39 lead.

“We didn’t box out well and it cost us,” Smith said.

A steal and a basket by Lingerfelt brought the Blue Devils within 1 point, 42-41, again, but Smith’s team could not take advantage of opportunities in the final minutes as the Warriors held on for the victory.

Lingerfelt scored 11 points (1 three-pointer) and had 3 steals in the loss. Casey scored 7 and had 6 rebounds. Thompson scored 7 (1 three-pointer) and had 5 rebounds. Adkins scored 4. Ty Thelen (1 three-pointer) Robbie O’Dell (1 three-pointer) and Danny Lowery each scored 3 points. Austin O’Dell scored 2. Holt scored 1.

Following last week’s games, the Blue Devils are tied with Happy Valley for last place in the Three Rivers Conference.

“If we can get some wins, we can work our way up the conference standings,” Smith said. “With our league, there is going to be a lot of everyone beating everyone. Because of that, the standings could change a lot by the end of the season.”

• • •

The Blue Devils traveled to Sullivan South (16-7, 4-3) for a conference contest with the Rebels on Tuesday, Jan. 22, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

They are scheduled to travel to Johnson County to face the Longhorns (16-4, 6-1) on Friday, Jan. 25. They will host Sullivan East (13-10, 2-4) on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Varsity games are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Lady Devil basketball team defeats ‘Betsy, Hampton

Ashtan Vance makes her way to the hoop against Sullivan Central. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School girls basketball team (10-5, 3-3) kicked off a three-game homestand with a win against the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The Lady Devils picked up the Three Rivers Conference win by a score of 61-57.

In a game that saw both teams tied at 28 going into the half, the score remained close until the final buzzer. The Lady Devils were led by senior guard Chloe Powers who finished the game with 19 points. Senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson put up 16 points while senior post Allee Griffith finished with 12 points.

The Lady Devils have rallied around the three seniors for leadership this season when it has been needed most. Powers and Griffith each had a double-double, as Powers added 12 rebounds to accent her 19 points and Griffith grabbed 10 boards to go with her 12 points. Hendrickson also dished out 5 assists to accompany her 16 points.

Joining the three seniors in scoring were sophomore guard Caroline Podvin who put up 6 points, junior guard Ashtan Vance who contributed 5 points and sophomore guard Tenley Holt who scored 3 points in the victory.

The Lady Devils had a better outing than their previous game which was a loss to Sullivan East.

“We played better defensively and with more scrap and grit than we did against East,” head coach Kerri King said. “That was nice to see.”

•••

A key matchup in Three Rivers Conference play took place in Erwin on Friday, Jan. 11, as the red hot Sullivan Central Lady Cougars came into town to face the Lady Devils.

At the end of the night, the Lady Cougars remained unbeaten in conference play as they snuck out of Unicoi with a 48-39 victory over the third-place Lady Devils.

Powers, Podvin and Vance each had 10 points in the loss. Griffith had 6 points and Hendrickson had 3.

The Lady Devils will get another chance against the conference leading Lady Cougars, when the Lady Devils travel to Sullivan Central on Feb. 5.

•••

The Lady Devils finished their three-game homestand with a 60-57 victory against the Hampton Lady Bulldogs on Monday, Jan. 14.

At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Devils jumped out to a 19-15 lead over the Lady Bulldogs.

The Lady Devils then took their foot off of the throttle and the Lady Bulldogs took advantage, taking the lead into halftime 31-26 over the Lady Devils.

King had the Lady Devils back on track when they took the court for the second half.

“We did a good job with the press in the third quarter, and we got steals and we were able to convert those into scores,” King told The Erwin Record.

The Lady Devils rallied behind the hot hand of Hendrickson, who took control of the game in the second half. Hendrickson finished with 16 points.

Powers scored 15. Griffith scored 10. Podvin scored 8. Vance scored 7 and Holt scored 4.

King said she was pleased with the outcome.

“After we took the lead we switched to zone, and I thought the girls did a fantastic job closing out on the shooters,” King said.

•••

The Lady Devils traveled to Cloudland for a non-conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 15, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

The Lady Devils will come back home on Friday, Jan. 18, in a key conference game against the Lady Warriors of Happy Valley. The game will pit number two versus number three in the Three Rivers Conference.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Lady Devils travel back to Sullivan County to face off in a Three Rivers Conference battle against the Lady Rebels of Sullivan South.

All games are scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m.

Shooting woes doom Blue Devil basketball team

Brock Thompson drives by a defender during the Blue Devils’ loss to Sullivan Central. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

The first win of the new year still eludes the Unicoi County High School boys basketball team.

Despite a furious comeback in the Devils’ Den on Monday, Jan. 14, the Blue Devils (4-15, 1-5) fell to the Hampton Bulldogs, 69-64, in non-conference play.

“I felt like we struggled offensively in the first half, but played pretty good defense,” head coach Michael Smith told The Erwin Record.

Smith’s team trailed 27-23 at the half. The Blue Devils came out of the lockerroom playing pretty solid basketball and took a 30-29  lead over the 14-7 Bulldogs in the third quarter.

“Then, our effort didn’t stay where we needed it and we gave up too many easy baskets,” Smith said. “We also didn’t shoot well and got outscored 17-2.”

The run gave Hampton a 46-32 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“The start of the fourth quarter was like the end of the third and we got down more,” Smith said. “But, then we started pressing and fouling to extend the game as long as we could. We also made shots during the fourth quarter – including six of our 10 three-pointers.”

The Blue Devils cut the Bulldogs’ lead to four points, but ran out of time in the end. UCHS outscored Hampton 32-23 in the fourth quarter, but lost the game, 69-64.

“I am pleased with two-and-a-half quarters of this game, but we didn’t have the same focus, intensity and effort the rest of the game,” Smith said. “Against the teams on our schedule, we have to show up for all 32 minutes. We can’t have any letdowns.”

Brock Thompson led the Blue Devils in scoring on Monday with 28 points. Austin O’Dell scored 11 and Brett Lingerfelt scored 9.

•••

Poor shooting nights doomed the Blue Devils in two Three Rivers Conference games last week. Playing at home against Elizabethton (12-3) on Tuesday, Jan. 8, Smith’s team shot only 20.4 percent from the field. Playing at home against Sullivan Central (7-12) on Friday, Jan. 11, the Blue Devils didn’t do much better – shooting only 32.7 percent.

“We have struggled scoring in the last few games,” Smith said. “We are getting good shots and making good moves, but we just couldn’t get the ball to go in the basket.”

Elizabethton took a double-digit lead, 25-14, at halftime and built on that for a 52-31 victory last week.

“I felt like we played good defensively all night,” Smith said of the game against the Cyclones. “We did a great job of executing the defensive game plan all night long. They just made some tough shots that we were willing to give up.  We really struggled shooting all night long.”

In addition to shooting only 20 percent from the field, the Blue Devils only shot 58 percent from the free throw line against Elizabethton.

Thompson scored 9 points (1 three-pointer) and had 4 rebounds in the loss. Gavin Casey scored 6 and had 5 rebounds. Lingerfelt scored 6 (1 three-pointer). O’Dell scored 5 and had 6 rebounds. Danny Lowery scored 3 and had 8 rebounds. Robbie O’Dell and L.J. Mitchel each scored 1.

Smith’s team shot a little better against Central on Jan. 11, but still fell to the Cougars, 51-41.

“I thought we played OK defensively for three quarters of this game,” Smith said. “We just struggled to make shots when we needed to. We didn’t execute set plays and couldn’t get a shot to fall.”

•••

The Blue Devils traveled to Cloudland for a non-conference game after The Erwin Record’s press deadline on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

They are scheduled to host Happy Valley in conference play on Friday, Jan. 18, and travel to Sullivan South on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Varsity games are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Lewis receives all-state honors

Kody Lewis (Erwin Record File Photo)

By Keeli Parkey

Months after the 2018 high school football season came to a close one, Blue Devil is still being recognized for his efforts on the gridiron.

It was recently announced that junior Unicoi County High School football standout running back Kody Lewis was chosen for the Tennessee Football Coaches Association all-state team for the 3-A classification.

“It’s a great accomplishment for my team and for me,” Lewis said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that without my teammates and my coaching staff.”

The head man on that coaching staff is very proud of Lewis.

“There really isn’t a nomination process, that’s one of the reasons that it is so difficult to be named all-state,” UCHS head coach Drew Rice told The Erwin Record. “It’s sort of just recognition from all the different media outlets and coaches across the state. To our knowledge, we haven’t had anyone named all-state in football since 1985. It’s a really special accomplishment.

“I think it’s a testament to his God-given ability, but also to how hard he has worked to make himself the best football player he can be,” Rice continued. “He is probably the strongest kid we have on our football team pound for pound. It’s no coincidence that the strongest guys in the weight room are usually the best football players too.”

Lewis was a force on the field for the Blue Devils during the 2018 season, helping the team to a 9-3 overall record, a second-place finish in Region 1-AAA and a playoff game victory.

The junior carried the ball 194 times for 2,025 yards and 24 touchdowns – all without a single fumble.

“We have said for the last two years that we wanted to run the football,” Rice said. “So Kody certainly made that happen. He is a threat to score anytime he touches it, so that’s a great quality to have in one of your guys who gets as many touches as he does. He will be the first one to give credit to his teammates and his offensive line, though. It’s just the sort of young man he is.”

Lewis also helped the team in other ways, including catching 3 passes for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had 64 tackles on the defensive side of the ball and played a key role on special teams with 8 kickoff returns for 163 yards.

Lewis has another season for the Blue Devils.

“Honestly, it’s tough to put expectations of having an even better season as a senior when you put up the sort of numbers he did this past year,” Rice said. “Brett Strother being such a threat on the outside for us this year, really opened up the running lanes for Kody and our offense. So we know people will be keying on him next year, but that just opens the door of opportunity for someone else to come in and make an impact for us. It’s what makes football such a great game.

One of his players earning such a recognition is important for the Blue Devil program, according to Rice.

“It’s huge for us,” he said. “You look at the list of kids on that list, and they all play for tremendous programs. So for us to have a guy on the same list as guys that won a state championship this past year is just huge.”

Players also on the TnFCA Class 3-A Offense All-State team were: Trey Foster of Austin East; Brock Lomax of Covington; Walker Russell of Alcoa; Xavier Shepherd of Pearl Cohn; Marcus Hayes of Covington; Blake Metzger of Upperman; James Moore of Stratford; Cole Bush of Upperman; Calvin Jackson III of Red Bank; Kam Harris-Lusk of Fairview; K.J. Zeigler of Giles County; Andrew Coulter of Alcoa; Hiller Gray of Fairview; Jaalon Gupton of Stratford; Mayson Harris of Pearl Cohn; Spencer Lacewell of South Gibson; Matt Blow of Camden; Donoven McCallister of Upperson; Chris Stevenson of Austin East; Romal Webb of Raleigh Egypt; and Zeke Rankin of Alcoa.

Early lead slips away from Blue Devil basketball team

Blue Devil Brett Lingerfelt releases a jump shot just over the outstretched arms of Sullivan East’s Dayne Davis. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

A Three Rivers Conference victory slipped out of the hands of the Unicoi County High School Blue Devil basketball team last week. Playing at Sullivan East on Friday, Jan. 4, the Blue Devils (4-11, 1-3) saw an early double-digit lead disappear as the Patriots stole a victory.

In the opening minutes of the game, the Blue Devils played some of their best basketball of the season – outscoring East 19-4 thanks to highlight plays like junior Brett Lingerfelt’s 4-point play. The UCHS defense also offered highlights during the early part of the game, according to head coach Michael Smith.

“I felt like we executed our game plan defensively in the first half really well,” he said. “We also did a good job of getting the shots we wanted and we took advantage of that.”

The Patriots rallied in the final minutes of the first quarter to cut the Blue Devil lead to single digits, 19-11, at the end of the frame. UCHS went on another run in the second quarter to take a 41-29 lead at halftime.

“We felt good at halftime,” Smith said. “Again, we did what we wanted to do defensively. We made them take tough shots. Most of the time we were right where we needed to be defensively.”

The foul disparity began to wear on the Blue Devils in the second half and allowed the Patriots to get back into the game. East cut the lead to two points, 54-52, near the end of the third before Brock Thompson’s three-pointer put UCHS up 57-52 going into the final eight minutes of play.

An offensive rebound by the 6-foot-7 Dayne Davis put the Patriots up 59-57.

Davis was a problem for UCHS, especially in the second half. According to Smith, Davis had 21 rebounds and 15 points in the game with all of his points coming in the second half.

“We are undersized against a player like him,” Smith said. “I am proud of how our guys battled.”

Blue Devil Ty Thelen then tied the game on a jump shot. UCHS then took the lead again, 61-59, when Phoenix Holt hit Thompson for a jump shot in the paint with around 5 minutes to play. It was the last field goal by UCHS in the game and would be the last lead the Blue Devils would have.

The Patriots closed the game on a 14-3 run, thanks in part to opportunities from the free throw line. East hit 10-14 from the line in the final minutes of the game.

“They got 30 points from the free throw line in the game,” Smith said. “They were 30-40. We only shot nine free throws the whole game. I felt like they were calling fouls on us that they weren’t calling fouls on the other end.”

East won the game 73-64.

Thompson led UCHS with a double-double of 25 points (6 three-pointers) and 10 rebounds. Lingerfelt was the only other Blue Devil in double figures with 16 points (3 three-pointers); he also had 4 rebounds and 5 assists.

Danny Lowery scored 6 and had 5 rebounds. Gavin Casey scored 5 points with 4 assists. Thelen scored 4 and had 3 assists. L.J. Mitchell scored 4. Holt scored 2. Austin O’Dell scored 2 and had 5 rebounds.

• • •

The Blue Devils traveled to Cleveland High School after the Christmas break for a tournament, but struggled against some tough competition.

In the opening round of the tournament on Dec. 27, UCHS fell to Bradley Central, 82-59. Thompson scored 20 in the loss, while Lingerfelt added 11.

The following day, the Blue Devils fell to Sequoyah, 67-44. Thompson scored 11 in the loss. Lingerfelt and Lowery both scored 10.

The final day of the tournament on Dec. 29 saw UCHS lose to Hixson, 52-48. Lingefelt led the way with 16 points in the loss. Thompson scored 13.

• • •

The Blue Devils hosted conference foe Elizabethton on Tuesday, Jan. 8, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

They are scheduled to continue conference play at home on Friday, Jan. 11, against Sullivan Central. The Blue Devils will host Hampton on Monday, Jan. 14, and travel to Cloudland on Tuesday, Jan. 15, for non-conference games. Junior varsity games are scheduled for 5 p.m. with the varsity games set for 8 p.m.

Lady Devil basketball team falls to Sullivan East

Lady Devil junior guard Tenley Holt attempts to drive to the hoop at Sullivan East on Jan. 4. Holt scored 3 points in the Lady Devils’ conference loss to the Lady Patriots. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School Lady Devil basketball team showed some rust in their return to action following the holiday break.

The Lady Devil’s (8-4, 2-2) traveled to Sullivan East on Friday, Jan. 4, and dropped a Three Rivers Conference game to the Lady Patriots.

The Lady Patriots picked up their first conference win of the season against UCHS by a final of 75-43. The Lady Patriots were led by Kylee Wolfe who accounted for 25 points.

The Lady Devils were led by senior guard Chloe Powers and senior post Allee Griffith with 12 points each. Senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson put up 8 points and junior guard Ashtan Vance scored 6 points in the losing effort. Sophomore guard Tenley Holt scored 3 points and sophomore guard Caroline Podvin finished with 2 points.

There was something amiss in the Lady Devils’ effort as they just could not find a groove against the Lady Patriots.

“We played flat, without heart and did not defend,” coach Kerri King said of the Lady Devil’s performance.

The loss drops the Lady Devils to third place in the Three Rivers Conference behind the Sullivan Central Lady Cougars and the Johnson County Lady Longhorns. Sullivan Central sits atop the standings with a 4-0 Three Rivers Conference record and Johnson County has a 2-1 conference record.

The Lady Devils look to bounce back with a homestand that starts with conference opponent Elizabethton on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at UCHS after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue. The Lady Devils then take aim at the Sullivan Central Lady Cougars, who travel to Unicoi County on Friday, Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Devils finish their homestand on Monday, Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m. with a non-conference clash against the Hampton Lady Bulldogs. They will travel to Cloudland on Jan. 15.

Ladies defeat David Crockett, Chuckey-Doak

Kaylia Street drives to the goal against Chuckey-Doak on Saturday, Dec. 15, in Afton. (Contributed photo by Teresa Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School girls basketball program marched into Jonesborough on Friday, Dec. 14, and both the junior varsity and varsity squads left with victories.

The Lady Devil junior varsity team held off a late run by the Lady Pioneers for a 30-28 victory. The Lady Devils varsity squad (8-3, 2-1) found themselves holding off an aggressive Lady Pioneer team for a 53-40 win on the road.

The Lady Devils welcomed back sophomore guard Tenley Holt, who had been out due to concussion protocol for the last two games. Holt put up 9 points for her return.

Senior guard Chloe Powers went off for 18 points, including a pair of three-pointers late in the game. Junior guard Ashtan Vance had the magic touch early putting up 9 points in the first quarter.

Scoring 7 points was senior guard Kaylee Hendrickson. Sophomore guard Caroline Podvin put up 6 points while Senior post Allee Griffith scored 4 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

The Lady Devils found themselves in foul trouble late in the game but the bench came in for the save.

“Guards Leah Edney and Kaylia Street were solid in the third quarter when Caroline and Kaylee were in foul trouble,” King told The Erwin Record.

The Lady Pioneers put on a late run led by Emma Gouge who finished with 19 points.

“Crockett was trapping and putting all kinds of pressure on us, but we stayed composed and calm,” King said of the victory.

This was a big win for the Lady Devils who were coming off of a two-game losing streak.

“Crockett was coming off two big wins and playing with a momentum swing and I was proud of how we just stayed the course and how we were patient against their matchup zone and got the job done,” King told The Erwin Record.

• • •

The Lady Devils picked up their second win in 24 hours as they cruised by the Chuckey-Doak Lady Black Knights, 70-23, on Saturday, Dec. 15, on the road.

The Lady Devils were led by Holt, who finished with 15 points. Podvin and Street each put up 10 points. Finishing with 7 points was Hendrickson. Edney, freshman guard Abigail Rush and Griffith finished with 6 points each. Contributing 4 points a piece were Powers and Vance. Junior Jayla Stockfelt put up 2 points in the victory. Podvin and Edney had 5 rebounds each and Holt and Hendrickson each had 3 steals. The Lady Devils had 13 total steals as a team. Hendrickson, Powers, and Holt each had 3 assists for the win.

King was pleased with the teamwork she saw from her squad.

“Everyone contributed and we distributed the ball well,” King told The Erwin Record.

• • •

The Lady Devils will not be in action again until Jan. 4, when they travel to Sullivan County to face Three Rivers Conference foe Sullivan East.

Blue Devil basketball team snaps losing streak

From Staff Reports

After letting a victory slip through their fingers the night before, the Blue Devils fought their way back into the win column on Saturday, Dec. 15, when they came from behind to defeat Chuckey-Doak (6-3) in non-conference play in Afton.

It was the first win for the Unicoi County High School varsity boys basketball team (4-7, 1-2) in the month of December.

“Getting back in the win column was very important for us, especially going into the holiday,” head coach Michael Smith said. “We needed to end on a high note before the break and getting a win over a quality opponent on their home floor was big. It’s a big confidence booster for us. We are in a good place going into the new year.”

The Blue Devils and Black Knights played almost even basketball in the first half on Saturday. UCHS managed to take a two-point advantage, 32-30, at halftime.

Chuckey-Doak took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils, 21-11, to take a 51-43 lead into the final eight minutes. The lead reached double figures, 56-46, in the fourth quarter, but the Blue Devils didn’t stop fighting and got themselves back into the game.

Off an assist by Gavin Casey, Austin O’Dell’s layup tied the game at 56 with just under four minutes to play in the game.

UCHS then took the lead for good when after an offensive rebound by O’Dell, Brett Lingefelt hit Phoenix Holt under the basket for a layup. Holt was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to put his team up, 61-58.

“We played well down the stretch,” Smith said. “We made our free throws and took care of the ball. We also did a good job rebounding throughout the game.”

The Blue Devils won the game 65-61.

Lingerfelt scored 17 points (4 three-pointers) and had 5 assists in the win. Casey scored 13 (1 three-pointer) and had 6 assists and 4 rebounds. O’Dell scored 13 and had 5 rebounds.

“It was great to see us have three players score in double figures,” Smith said. “It was one of our most balanced games offensively of the season.”

Thompson just missed scoring in double figures with 9 points to go with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Danny Lowery scored 6 and had 6 rebounds. Caleb Adkins had 4 and Holt scored 3.

• • •

The Blue Devils got off to a great start against the Pioneers at David Crockett High School on Friday, Dec. 14, taking a 9-0 lead. However, the team then let up and soon found themselves down 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.

“We got off to a good start,” Smith said. “I think we relaxed after that and thought it was going to be an easy win.”

The Pioneers kept fighting in the first half and once tying the game fought their way to a 31-21 advantage at halftime.

“We didn’t play well in the second quarter,” Smith said. “They picked up their play and we didn’t.”

Smith regrouped his team at halftime and the Blue Devils slowly worked their way back into the game.

“We played a lot better in the second half,” Smith said.

Trailing 47-36 going into the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils made a final push to get the non-conference win. UCHS took a 59-58 lead in the final minutes before a three-pointer by Crockett put the Pioneers in the lead for good.

“We had chances down the stretch, but we couldn’t take advantage of them,” Smith said.

Crockett won the game, 62-60.

Thompson scored 17 points (4 three-pointers) to go along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. O’Dell scored 10. Casey scored 10 and had 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Lingerfelt scored 7 )1 three-pointer). Lowery scored 4. Robbie O’Dell (1 three-pointer) and Nicholas Lynch each scored 3. Ty Thelen, Holt and Caleb Adkins each scored 2.

• • •

The Blue Devils will have a break until after Christmas. They will resume play on Thursday, Dec. 27, in a holiday tournament at Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Tennessee. They will open the tournament against Bradley Central on Dec. 27 at 11:30 a.m. The tournament will continue on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29.

The Blue Devils will return to Three Rivers Conference play on Jan. 4 at Sullivan East and will host Elizabethton on Jan. 8. Junior varsity games are scheduled for 5 p.m. and varsity games are scheduled for 8 p.m.