From Staff Reports
After losing its first game of the season, the Unicoi County High School boys basketball team rebounded with three consecutive victories.
Playing in the 28th Annual Hardee’s Classic at David Crockett High School last week, the Blue Devils lost to the host squad, 77-5, on Nov. 20, then went on to win its next three contests, defeating Happy Valley, Northview Academy and Daniel Boone to improve to 5-1 on the season.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Blue Devils manhandled Three Rivers Conference rival Happy Valley, 77-40.
“We were happy with the way our guys bounced back from the loss the day before,” head coach Michael Smith said. “It was good to see them respond how they did. Our pressure defense was very effective in that game.”
Trevor Hensley almost outscored the Warriors on his own – he had 37 points and 4 steals in the win. Clay Simpson and Brett Lingerfelt each scored 7 points. Troy Podvin and Brock Thompson each scored 6. Brett Strother and Austin O’Dell had 4 points each. Caleb Adkins, Danny Lowery and Nicholas Lynch each scored 2.
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UCHS got another blowout victory during the tournament on Friday, Nov. 24. This time, they defeated Northview Academy, 71-51. A 30-point first quarter put the Blue Devils in control from the beginning, then they cruised to the victory.
“Again, our pressure defense forced turnovers and created easy baskets for us,” Smith said.
Hensley scored 27 points to go along with 6 steals and 4 assists in the win. Simpson scored 21 and had 9 rebounds. Lingerfelt scored 11. Podvin scored 5 and had 9 rebounds. Ty Thelen scored 3. Strother scored 2. Thompson and Lowery scored 1 point each.
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The Blue Devils found themselves down 40-32 at halftime against Daniel Boone on Saturday, Nov. 25, after the Trailblazers went on a 21-7 run in the second quarter.
“Their zone defense in the second quarter bothered us a little and slowed down our offense,” Smith said. “We had some good shots from outside, but we just didn’t make them.”
The teams played even basketball in the third quarter – each scoring 6 points for a 46-38 Trailblazer lead. That lead reached double figures during the fourth, then the Blue Devils switched to a full-court man press and that changed the tide of the game.
“That got the tempo in our favor and we got some easy baskets from that,” Smith said. “That really helped us. Our energy picked up and we were more aggressive, which allowed us to go on a run to take the lead and win the game.”
A three-pointer by Brock Thompson tied the game at 55, but Boone responded with a score for a 57-55 lead. A steal by Podvin led to a three-point play by Simpson which gave the Blue Devils a 58-57 lead – a lead they would not relinquish.
UCHS held on to win the game, 64-60.
Hensley scored 19 and had 5 assists. Simpson scored 14 and had 7 rebounds. Podvin scored 9 and had 7 rebounds. Thompson, Lingerfelt and Strother had 6 points each. Gavin Casey scored 4.
Jefferson County won the 28th Annual Hardee’s Classic.
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The Blue Devils will open Three Rivers Conference play on Friday, Dec. 1, against Happy Valley at the Devils’ Den in Erwin. The junior varsity squad will play at 5 p.m., with the varsity taking to the court at 8 p.m.
Conference play will continue for the Blue Devils when they go on the road to face Sullivan South on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The freshmen team will play at 3:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity at 5 p.m. and the varsity at 8 p.m.