Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Buzzer-beater lifts Devils over Bulldogs

With the game on the line, Blue Devil Dylan Putman doesn’t mind the ball in his hands.
The Unicoi County High School junior hit two 3-pointers with time expiring on Saturday, Dec. 12, including a game-winning shot to propel the Blue Devil basketball team (5-5) over Hampton High School, 65-62.
A rally by the Bulldogs, with time ticking down in the fourth quarter, almost doomed UCHS. Trailing 62-57 with less than a minute remaining, Hampton’s Charlie Butler took the ensuing possession down for a 3-pointer and another Bulldog steal resulted in two points, knotting things up at 62 with under 10 seconds to go.
The Blue Devils moved the ball up court with Putman positioned in the corner.
“We didn’t have a play drawn up,” he said after the game. “I just want the ball in my hands in times like that. This was a huge win for us, especially after the two games we lost. It was important to get back on track with a game like this.”
Putman (19 points, four rebounds), along with a team effort across the board, helped UCHS right the ship after Friday night’s defeat to Sullivan East in Three Rivers Conference action, according to Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith.
“I think it shows we’re growing up a little bit as a team,” he said. “We could have mailed it in tonight after getting beat last night. Our guys played hard the entire game. I think this is a big game for us to build on. Hampton is as good of a team as there is in the area; everyone knows it. This is just a big quality win for us tonight.”
The Blue Devils exploded out of the gate in the first quarter, including a trio of shots from beyond the arc from Putman, Hunter Hensley and Dalton Spears, to take a 21-15 lead. Hampton battled back to make it a two-point deficit at halftime, 37-35.
The Bulldogs netted seven in the scoring column, and never backed down in the second half, but the Blue Nation’s duo down low of Clay Simpson and Jacob Smith helped keep Hampton at bay, according to Smith.
“Clay and Jacob both played huge for us tonight in both halves, but especially in the second half,” the head coach said. “Scoring in the second half, Clay had around 10 or more points and Jacob did that in the first half … but they both got rebounds. One of those two always came down with a rebound for us it seemed the entire night. That’s huge for us.”
Simpson reached double figures with 12 points in the second half with nine rebounds. Smith tallied in 10 points in the first half and finished with a double-double thanks to a team-high 13 boards during the night.
Four Blue Devils reached double-digit scoring with guard Trevor Hensley finishing with 11 points. Hunter Hensley added seven points and Spears added six to round out the UCHS scoring.
With different players adding the score column, and quality minutes from guys off the bench like Eli Gillis and Chase McNabb, Saturday was what the Blue Devils are capable of doing each night on the court, according to Putman.
“We haven’t played as good as we can all year,” Putman said. “We knew as soon as we were able to put it together we could get it done like we did tonight.”
Butler led HHS with 14 points. Chris Holtsclaw and Jose Velazquez tallied in 11 and 10, respectively.
• • •
UCHS went for the first round knockout, but the Patriots weathered the storm on Friday, Dec. 11. The Blue Devils fell to 1-1 in the league after Sullivan East upped their full court pressure to defeat the Blue Devils 69-50 in Bluff City.
The pedal was to the metal early for the Blue Devils, moving to an 18-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Capitalizing off turnovers and hitting their shots at the right time, the Patriots took a seven-point lead into halftime, 37-20, before putting the game away in the second half.
Putman led the Blue Devils with 17 points. Trevor Hensley chipped in 16.
Sullivan East’s Cole Green worked his way through the paint to drop a game-high 22 points in the winning effort.
• • •
Cloudland wasn’t going to be denied by UCHS at home to open the week.
With the game coming down to the wire, the Highlanders narrowly edged out the Blue Devils, 54-53, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, in Roan Mountain.
Putman and Trevor Hensley dropped 15-performances to lead UCHS.
Preston Benfield finished with a game-high 16 points and Dalton Vines added 12 for the Highlanders.
• • •
UCHS opened this week with a trip to Science Hill after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The Blue Devils will return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 22, with a non-conference game at David Crockett. Tip-offs against Crockett are: freshman team playing at 5 p.m., junior varsity going at 6:30 p.m. and varsity at 8 p.m.