From Staff Reports
Offensive production was lacking for the Unicoi County High School boys basketball team last week – and it cost them. The Blue Devils (3-6, 1-2) dropped three games last week, including two in the Three Rivers Conference.
“We have to have more consistency on the offensive end,” Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith said. “We have to have scoring from everybody. We need more guys contributing more often.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 4, turnovers proved very costly for the Blue Devils as they fell to conference foe Sullivan South (7-3, 2-1) in Erwin, 52-47. Twenty-four UCHS turnovers led to 23 points for the Rebels.
“I thought we played alright, but we had too many turnovers,” Smith said. “We did not take care of the ball.”
UCHS trailed by as many as 12 points in the game and was down 36-30 at the start of the fourth quarter.
“We were able to cut their lead to three with minutes to play, but they made enough free throws to hold on for the win,” Smith said.
Sophomore guard Brock Thompson led the Blue Devils with 15 points (3 three-pointers), 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Junior guard Brett Lingerfelt was the only other Blue Devil in double figures with 13 points (2 three-pointers); he also had 4 assists and 3 steals.
Senior post Austin O’Dell contributed 8 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Junior guard Phoenix Holt had 4 points. Senior post Danny Lowery had 4 points. Senior guard Ty Thelen had 3 points (1 three-pointer).
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A disastrous start doomed UCHS against the Johnson County Longhorns (5-4, 1-1) in conference action on Friday, Dec. 7, in Erwin. The Longhorns jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Blue Devils scored their first bucket and held a 40-21 lead at halftime.
“We had two or three turnovers early in the game and we also missed some easy shots,” Smith said. “They shot very well at the same time. Our missed shots got in our heads for some reason. We seemed to think about them too much and that carried over to the next shot or next defensive possession.”
UCHS never got within single digits in the game as the Longhorns won, 68-47.
Thompson was the only Blue Devil to score in double figures in the loss. He had 24 points (3 three-pointers) to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Thelen scored 4 and had 2 steals. Lowery scored 4 and had 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Gavin Casey, Lingerfelt and O’Dell each scored 3. Holt, Robbie O’Dell and Nicholas Lynch each scored 2.
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Despite a 33-point performance from Lingerfelt, the Blue Devils could not get a non-conference win over the Hampton Bulldogs (7-2) in Carter County on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Lingerfelt made 9 three-pointers in the loss, one shy of tying the school record of 10, which was set by Davey Edwards – also at Hampton.
“Brett shot the ball very, very well,” Smith said.
The Blue Devils got off to a much better start against Hampton than they had the previous night against Johnson County, taking an 18-11 lead after the opening quarter. The Bulldogs then outscored UCHS by 10 points in the second to lead 33-30 at the break.
“It was a back-and-forth game,” Smith said. “We would take a lead and they would come back and we would take the lead again.”
After trailing 48-43 at the start of the fourth, the Blue Devils battled back to take 54-50 lead with minutes to play. Then, things fell apart. Hampton closed the game on a 19-7 run to earn a 69-61 victory.
“We struggled down the stretch,” Smith said. “We just didn’t make shots.”
Thompson had 10 points (2 three-pointers) and 4 rebounds. Austin O’Dell had 6 points and 6 rebounds. Casey had 4 points and 9 rebounds. Nicholas Hensley had 3 points (1 three-pointer). Lowery had 3. Holt had 2.
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The Blue Devils will go on the road this weekend for two non-conference games.
They will face the David Crockett Pioneers (3-6) in Washington County on Friday, Dec. 14, then will travel to Afton to face the Chuckey-Doak Black Knights (6-1) on Saturday, Dec. 15. Chuckey-Doak plays in District 2-AA and could be an opponent the Blue Devils see in the region tournament.
“Both will be tough games for us,” Smith said. “They are two solid basketball teams.”
Junior varsity action is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. each day. The varsity team is scheduled to play at 8 p.m.