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Defense lifts Lady Devils over Happy Valley

Kaitlin Bailey drives to the basket. (File photo)

From Staff Reports

For the second time this season, the Unicoi County High School girls basketball team (13-7, 5-2) bested the Happy Valley Lady Warriors in Three Rivers Conference action. This time, the Lady Devils needed a strong defensive effort in the second half to leave Carter County with the victory on Friday, Jan. 19.

The Lady Devils’ defense didn’t show up in the first half. The team gave up 30 points to the Lady Warriors through the first two quarters on Friday. UCHS held Happy Valley to just 11 points in the first half of their first meeting this season, which was played in December in Erwin.

Fortunately for the Lady Devils, their offense during the first half on Friday was working well and, despite the sluggish defensive performance, UCHS held a 31-30 lead at the break.

Sparking the Lady Devil offense in the first half was the three-point shooting of junior guards Chloe Powers and Kaylee Hendrickson. In the first two quarters Hendrickson hit two three-pointers and had 8 points, while Powers hit five three-pointers – including one at the buzzer just before halftime to put the Lady Devils in the lead – and scored 15 points.

The second half was a different story.

“We came out and had a good third quarter, especially defensively,” Lady Devil head coach Kerri King said. “We held them to about half as many points in the second half as we gave up in the first half.”

While the UCHS defense stepped up, the Lady Devil offense continued to play well. Providing the spark for the offense in the third quarter was sophomore Kaitlin Bailey, who scored 10 of the team’s 15 points. The Lady Devils held a 46-37 lead going into the fourth quarter.

In the final eight minutes, it was senior Lady Devil post Halie Padgett who provided the spark. Padgett scored 12 of her 18 points in the final quarter and UCHS won the game, 61-46.

Powers led the team with 22 points and 5 rebounds. Padgett scored 18 and had 9 rebounds. Bailey almost had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Hendrickson scored 8 and had 7 assists. Tenley Holt scored 2.

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The Lady Devils hosted Sullivan South in Erwin on Tuesday, Jan. 23, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

They are scheduled to host Johnson County in conference action at UCHS on Friday, Jan. 26. They will travel to Sullivan East for another conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The junior varsity team will play at 3:30 p.m. and the varsity team will play at 6:30 p.m. each day.