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Devils clinch third seed in Three Rivers

Adversity rose up on the court, but the Blue Devils would not fade away.
Sullivan North tied the contest in the fourth quarter of a pivotal Three Rivers Conference game against the Blue Devils, but a 9-0 run thanks to Nic Chambers and Lucas Hensley during overtime allowed the Blue Devils to leave Kingsport with a 79-71 win on Friday, Feb. 1.
The win secured a third-place finish in the conference for the Blue Devils with district tournament looming around the corner.
“Our conference has been real competitive this year,” UCHS head coach Michael Smith said. “All of the conference games are big this year and we wanted to lock up that third place after dropping games to Elizabethton and Sullivan East. The guys have been really getting after it in the second half of the season.”
Unicoi County (12-12, 5-4) has moved their overall to .500 on the season after rattling off wins last against Johnson County, 46-44, on Monday, Jan. 28, and Unaka, 60-48, on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
The Blue Devils have won eight of their last 10 games.
On Friday night, Sullivan North pushed the Blue Devils to their limit.
After trailing throughout the game by single-digits, the Blue Devils claimed the lead in the fourth quarter, spearheaded by a 16-point second half effort from Connor Simpson, who finished the game with season-high 18 points and 11 rebounds.
North caught a much-needed break at the 2:35 mark of the fourth quarter: Grayson Ball drew a foul on Simpson, then a technical foul was called against Simpson, which fouled him out of the game.
Ball went 4-4 at the charity stripe and cutting the Blue Devil lead to six points and giving the Golden Raiders the momentum they needed to force overtime.
“I feel like we started to come apart a little in the fourth,” Smith said. “We messed up on the little things and North was able to capitalize.”
With one of the “Twin Towers” out of the contest, the other big man in the paint came through for the Blue Devils. Chambers, (15 points, 10 rebounds) scored six of his points in overtime to help lift the Blue Devils over the Golden Raiders.
“It was a great learning experience for us,” Chambers said. “It was big to be able to come over here and get this conference win. We feel like we’re playing a new level of basketball and just coming together as a team.”

For the remainder of this article please see the February 5, 2013 edition of The Erwin Record.