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Devils top Science Hill

Blue Nation crashed the party at the Topper Palace for a second consecutive year.
The Unicoi County High School Blue Devil basketball team closed out the fourth quarter on a 17-3 run to capture a 58-52 win over Science Hill on Tuesday, Dec. 15, in Johnson City.
The Blue Devils (6-5) have rallied off two straight wins against solid non-conference foes, having defeated Hampton on Dec. 12. Playing high-caliber teams is a great learning experience for the team as the season progresses, according to head coach Michael Smith.
“Our schedule is tough and it is tough for a reason,” Smith said. “We’ve got David Crockett, Science Hill and Hampton scheduled, Sullivan East is in our conference and we’re traveling down to Knoxville for the Christmas tournament.”
Against Science Hill, the Blue Devils took the court with a high-octane offensive attack in the first quarter and scored 24 points. Confidence had the offense rolling, Smith said, with the team riding high from their 65-62 win at Hampton.
“I think we came in with confidence,” Smith said. “The shooting stroke was still feeling good, they felt good about it and I think that had something to do with the fast start.”
Science Hill roared back in the second quarter to cut the deficit within one point, 32-31, at halftime and tied the ball game heading into the fourth quarter at 41.
The Hilltoppers were able to build a 49-41 lead in the early part of the fourth, including taking advantage of an intentional foul call, but the Blue Devils circled the wagons and regrouped to close out the game with the final run.
“I told them at that point we can’t quit,” Smith said. “We have to keep playing hard on the defensive end and limit them to just one shot. I felt like we did that down the stretch.”
Sophomore Trevor Hensley led the way with a game-high 20 points, while Dylan Putman dropped 14 points. Point guard Dalton Spears dropped in an early pair of three-pointers in the first quarter and played consistently on the court.
The guards played their roles to a tee, Smith said.
“They really spurred that effort by not turning over the ball and getting it where it needs to go,” Smith added. “Trevor and Putman are our main scorers, but we had our starting five all score tonight and that’s what we need to win these games down the stretch.”
Jacob Smith posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards, while Clay Simpson tacked on eight points in the win.
Peyton Wingate led the Hilltoppers with 17 points, while Bowden Lynch went for 10.
The game against Science Hill was the fourth straight road contest for the Blue Devils. UCHS took a breather before squaring off against David Crockett on Tuesday, Dec. 22, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
“We’ve had a tough stretch on the road,” Smith said. “I think we’ve handled it well so far. A break will be nice to polish some things, but I hope it doesn’t hurt us with the momentum we have going for us right now.
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The Blue Devils will be out of action following the Crockett contest until Monday, Dec. 28, in the opening round of the Bearden Super 16 tournament against Corryton Gibbs.
Tournament action will resume throughout the remainder of the week.