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.”