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.
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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.
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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.