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Blue Devils win season opener

The new season started off with business as usual for the Blue Devils.
The Unicoi County High School boys’ basketball team came away victorious in a 63-51 decision over Volunteer High School on Friday, Nov. 20, in Hall of Champions play at Hawkins County.
Led behind a 21-point effort from sophomore guard Trevor Hensley, the Blue Devils (2-0) were never really threatened throughout the contest. Head coach Michael Smith said he liked the intensity brought by his squad on Friday.
“I thought we played really hard just about the entire game, except for the third quarter,” he said. “We let down a little bit there, but I thought we got after it early on.”
The teams opened the 2014-2015 season last year in Erwin with the Blue Devils taking a 58-44 win. With the series heading back to Church Hill this season, UCHS escaped the early jitters of the in-school game by taking the 20-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to a 5-0 run from Jacob Smith and Clay Simpson (17 points).
Hensley led the scoring effort, but also distributed the ball well early on, finishing with five assists and a pair of steals to go with his final total.
“He’s definitely gotten a lot better since last season,” Smith said. “He works on his game all the time. He did a good job scoring and making his free throws late in the game.”
The Blue Devils took a 40-24 lead into halftime, but the Falcons were able to make a push to open up the second half.
By causing havoc on defense, Volunteer limited the Blue Devils to just four points in the third quarter, while scoring 16 points to cut the deficit to four points, 44-40, heading into the fourth.
The Blue Devils were able to keep the composure in the fourth, cashing in 11 out of 12 shots from the charity stripe – including shots from Dalton Spears, Eli Gillis, Trevor Hensley and Simpson – to ultimately pull away with the triumph.
The contest also saw the squad rotate in a different lineup. With returning players Dylan Putman, Trevor Hensley, Spears, Smith and Simpson, new faces were able to contribute to the victory – including Ethan Godsey, Hunter Hensley, Brandon Caldwell, Chase McNabb and Gillis.
“We played 10 of the 11 guys on the bench,” Smith said on Friday after the win. “I was glad we were able to do that. It was important for them to get the time early on. We have another game tomorrow and we’re going to be looking at doing the same thing where everyone can get a little time. I’m proud of all the guys for working hard and playing hard today to get the win.”
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UCHS and Volunteer met once again on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in the opening round of the 26th Annual Hardee’s Classic at David Crockett High School after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
Updates from the tournament will be featured online during the week with a full recap set for the next issue of The Erwin Record. The Blue Devils will also play in the tournament on Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28. The times of these contests will be determined by the results of previous games.
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UCHS concluded the Hall of Champions portion of their schedule on Saturday, Nov. 21, with a dominant 80-39 victory over Mitchell County, N.C., in Mountain City.