Lady Devil sophomore Ashtan Vance drives to the goal during her team’s victory at Volunteer on Thursday, Nov. 16. Vance scored 7 points in the win. (Photo contributed by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

Three games against three tough opponents awaited the Unicoi County High School girls basketball team (1-2) during the first days of the 2017-18 season.

In their first game of the season, the Lady Devils found themselves trailing 22-15 at Volunteer to the Lady Falcons on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Hall of Champions action. The team’s offensive struggles worked in favor of Volunteer, but fortunately for the Lady Devils their defense kept them in the game.

“We were not playing cohesively on offense,” head coach Kerri King said, “but, our defensive effort kept the score close.”

The second half was a different story. UCHS took a few minutes to get rolling offensively, but eventually they did, thanks to two three-point plays by Allee Griffith, baskets by Ashtan Vance and three-pointers by Chloe Powers and Kaylee Hendrickson.

“Our post play hurt them,” King said. “We were able to score in the paint and that opened things up for us on the perimeter.”

In a close contest, the Lady Devils shot well from the line in the fourth quarter, making 12-13 of their free throw attempts.

Powers led the team in scoring with 14 points. Haley Padgett scored 11 and had 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Hendrickson scored 10 and had 3 steals. Griffith scored 8, Vance scored 7 and Kaitlin Bailey scored 2.

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The Lady Devils played not one, but two Hall of Champions games at Tennessee High School in Bristol on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The team really struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter in the first game against the host Lady Vikings; the Lady Devils hit only 5 of their 13 two-point attempts and hit only 3 of their 17 three-point attempts. A bright spot was the team’s free throw shooting – they hit 23-28 attempts for 82 percent. Padgett was 18-20 from the free throw line.

“We had a solid first quarter, but we got in foul trouble,” King said. “I went to the bench, but I feel like we were never cohesive offensively after that. They were playing a zone and we were cold from the outside.”

The Lady Devils found themselves down by 9 points, 30-21 at the end of the third quarter. Using full-court pressure, the team went on a run and scored 21 points in the quarter, including a three-pointer by Padgett to give the ladies a chance to get the win. However, they just didn’t have enough time and lost the game 44-42.

Padgett led the team with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Hendrickson scored 6. Vance scored 4. Caroline Podvin scored 3. Powers and Rachel Lynch each scored 1 point.

Just a few hours after the Tennessee High game, the Lady Devils were on the court facing a big Dobyns-Bennett team. UCHS showed no hesitation and came out and battled the Lady Indians play for play.

“Our defensive effort was great in that game,” King said. “We did a good job handling their pressure. I was pleased with our effort.”

That defensive effort resulted in 21 steals by the Lady Devils.

Unfortunately, a quick 5-0 run by the Lady Indians late in the game gave them the cushion they needed to get a 52-48 win.

Padgett scored 16 in the loss to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Bailey scored 10 and had 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Hendrickson scored 8. Vance scored 5. Kenedy King scored 4 and had 5 steals. Griffith scored 3. Powers scored 2.

“Obviously, we don’t want to lose games,” King said. “But, we set our schedule up early to be tough so we can learn and get things figured out as the season goes along. I am happy with how we are progressing.”

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The Lady Devils are scheduled to play in a Thanksgiving tournament at Happy Valley High School in Carter County on Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25. They will face University High at 3 p.m. on Friday and get a chance to avenge their loss to Tennessee High when they face the Lady Vikings at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The team will open its conference schedule on Friday, Dec. 1, when they host Happy Valley at 6:30 p.m. at UCHS. The junior varsity team is scheduled to play its first game of the season on that day at 3:30 p.m.