From Staff Reports
The Unicoi County High School girls varsity basketball team (6-15, 3-4) avenged a previous loss to a Three Rivers Conference opponent last week in Erwin.
Playing in the Devils’ Den on Friday, Jan. 20, the Lady Devils rode a strong start to a solid 51-34 victory over Sullivan South. Head coach Kerri King said her team has focused on improving its defensive effort since losing to south in December and that made the difference in Friday’s game.
“We held Mollie Leslie to 2 points tonight,” King told The Erwin Record. “She scored 21 over there. We had a better commitment to defense as a team and it felt good to get a conference win against a team that had beaten us earlier. That’s a credit to the girls’ resilience.”
Against South, the Lady Devils held a 6 point lead at the end of the first quarter and a 10 point lead, 26-16, at halftime. Six Lady Devils – Neelee Griffith, Kaylee Hendrickson, Ashley Edwards, Halie Padgett, Kenedy King and Kaitlin Bailey – scored in the first half, giving UCHS the balanced offensive attack King has been wanting to see from her team.
Padgett and Griffith combined for 10 points in the third quarter, as the Lady Devils built a 17 point lead, 39-22, going into the fourth quarter. South never threatened to get back into the game and UCHS came away with a 51-34 victory.
Griffith led the team in scoring with 15 points (1 3-pointer). She also had 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Padgett had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Hendrickson scored 7 (1 3-pointer) to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. King scored 7 (1 3-pointer). Bailey scored 4, Chloe Powers scored 2 and Edwards scored 2.
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It wasn’t pretty, but it was a conference victory.
The Lady Devils got off to a very slow start on Saturday, Jan. 21, at Sullivan North, but received a boost from their bench as they defeated the Lady Golden Raiders 45-32.
“Having balanced scoring and the entire team contributing positive minutes is a huge lift,” King said. “I put young inexperienced players in during the first quarter and they stepped up against a team that was physical and outsized them. The game was messy but we showed scrap and fight. Learning how to win ugly games is essential.”
Nine Lady Devils scored during the victory.
Padget scored 8, Bailey scored 7, Ashtan Vance and Edwards (1 3-pointer) scored 5 each. Powers scored 4. Griffith, Allee Griffith and Hendrickson (1 3-pointer) scored 3 points each. Kaylia Street scored 2.
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The Lady Devils opened play last week with a 72-61 loss to Happy Valley in conference action on Tuesday, Jan. 17. After trailing 21-14 at the end of the first quarter, UCHS fought back in the second quarter to trail 36-33 at the break.
The third quarter doomed the Lady Devils, as the Lady Warriors outscored UCHS 17-9 to lead 53-42 going into the fourth. This was the difference in the game, as the teams played even basketball the rest of the way.
Padgett and Griffith both had double-doubles in the game, allowing the Lady Devils to control the paint. Padgett scored 20 and had 11 rebounds; Griffith scored 17 and had 13 rebounds.
Vance was the only other Lady Devil to reach double-figure scoring with 10 points. Hendrickson scored 3 (1 3-pointer), Edwards scored 2, Bailey scored 2 and Powers scored 1.
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The Lady Devils traveled to Sullivan East for an important conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 24, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.
They are scheduled to travel to Johnson County on Friday, Jan. 27, for their second matchup of the season with the Lady Longhorns. The Lady Devils previously defeated Johnson County earlier this month in Erwin.
UCHS returns home to face Sullivan North on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and Elizabethton on Friday, Feb. 3. The junior varsity will face Johnson County, North and Elizabethton at 3:30 p.m. each day; the varsity team will face those teams at 6:30 p.m.
The team will also recognize its senior members on Jan. 31.