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Blue Devils prepare for clash with Sullivan East

The Unicoi County High School Blue Devils will look to use last week’s games as preparation for an important, early season Three Rivers Conference clash.
Blue Nation saw their Blue Devils (3-5) wrap up an 0-2 record against a pair of solid AAA opponents during the Three Rivers/Big Eight Conference Challenge held in Bristol and Gray over the weekend.
The Blue Devils dropped their contest against Tennessee High on Saturday, Dec.1, at Daniel Boone High School, 66-48.
Three Blue Devils fired in double figures in the loss with Lucas Hensley leading the charge with 13 points. Connor Simpson and Ethan Rice rounded out the Devils’ leading scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
In the first game of the two-day event, the Blue Devils fell to Daniel Boone, 66-49, at Tennessee High on Friday, Nov. 30. Hensley led the scorers with 12 points while Rice scored in at double digits with 10 points.
Head coach Michael Smith’s crew will host Sullivan East on Friday, Dec. 7, with an 8 p.m. start time in Erwin. Smith said the weekend tournament will help his squad to gather up to square off against the 2012 Region 1 champion.
“It’ll be a tremendous help,” Smith said of the tournament. “They are two of the best teams in the area and it will only get us better for Sullivan East, then Elizabethton the next week.”
Sullivan East also took part in the conference challenge and snuck away with a 67-45 win over Daniel Boone on Saturday. The Patriots were upended by Tennessee High on Friday and lost, 62-50.
Unicoi County opened last week against Watauga Valley Conference heavyweight, Unaka High School. The Rangers, who came off a successful stint in the Hardee’s Classic, kept close with the Blue Devils early. But UCHS pulled away late and held on for a 66-56 win at the Devils’ Den in Erwin on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
“We preached it and we played as a family tonight,” Smith said. “Our guys are playing for that ‘Devils’ on their chest and taking pride wearing that name. We needed a game like this coming off the Hardee's.
“Unaka is a great team and our guys really answered the challenge on the offensive and defensive side of the ball and played unselfishly.”
Keith Arrowood led the squad with 15 points during the night. Rice and Hensley fired in at double digits with 13 and 12 points.
Nic Chambers led the team with 10 boards. Simpson hauled in eight rebounds.
Unaka was led by Danny Bales, who scored 24 points, while the rest of the Ranger squad was held to single-digit scoring.
Coming off a stretch where the offense struggled at times, having a host of Blue Devils tallied in on the scorebook was key, according to Smith. A strong defensive effort also helped the team offensively.
“Our defense did a good job of causing turnovers,” he added. “The defense really did their job for us offensively. The turnovers led to easy buckets.”
The Blue Devil junior varsity won in a close affair against the Unaka junior varsity on Tuesday, 50-45. Austin Hendrickson led the Blue Devils with 13 points.
On Saturday, the junior varsity Blue Devils lost to Boone, 62-60.
They will be back in action on Friday to square off against the Sullivan East junior varsity program at 5 p.m.

By Curtis Carden
Sports Writer
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