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Devils win third in Knoxville

Blue Devil Trevor Hensley had a knack for finding the rim in Knoxville last week.
The sophomore drilled a game-high 29 points in Unicoi County High School’s 75-66 triumph over Knoxville Christian School (KCS) in the consolation game of the 33rd annual BSN Super 16 tournament on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
The Blue Devils (8-7) wrapped up the 2015 stretch of the regular season with a pair of wins during the post-Christmas tournament.
“It was very important going 2-1 in the tournament,” Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith said. “We played some good competition – all three games were against real good teams. They are a little bit different with their styles, but I thought we played hard and got after it. We didn’t do everything great, but I thought we had a good week and got some good experience for the conference schedule coming up.”
The game against KCS proved to be the biggest learning experience for the Blue Devils last week. Against a taller KCS squad, UCHS went without 6’-5” sophomore Clay Simpson, who was sidelined early in the contest due to a knee injury. Simpson is expected to make a quick turnaround for this week’s slate of games.
“They had the size advantage and our tallest kid didn’t play,” Smith said. “The officiating down in the area is a bit different than up here, so we really had to box out to get the calls we needed. (KCS) was six inches taller than the tallest player we had out there, so it was good to see how hard the guys played and grew up on the court.”
Hensley filled the stat line with five rebounds, four assists and three steals to go along with his 29 points. He was joined in double figures by guard Dylan Putman with 17 points.
Hunter Hensley helped distribute the ball with a team-high five assists, while Chase McNabb and Jacob Smith worked down low against KCS and combined for 15 points.
“It was a good team effort,” coach Smith said. “We had different guys step up. Michael Howell came in and gave us a solid eight to 10 minutes and had a couple of steals and six rebounds.”
York Institute won the championship, 92-63, over Austin-East.
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The Blue Devils had three hit double-digit scoring, including a season-high night for Simpson, but Austin-East would not be denied on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
UCHS met with the Roadrunners in the winners’ bracket semifinal, but were unable to pull away late in a 71-67 decision.
Simpson paced the Blue Devils with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Hensley added 18 points and six assists. Putman tallied in 11 points from the outside.
Dalton Spears and Smith contributed five steals and five boards in the contest, respectively.
The Blue Devils banked on a high-octane offense, but the Roadrunners were able to snag a 64-58 lead midway through the fourth and held on for the win.
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The Blue Devils went the distance to open the tournament with a 61-54 win over Class AAA Corryton Gibbs. on Monday, Dec. 28. Gibbs has defeated Three Rivers Conference members Elizabethton and Sullivan South in one-point victories to end the month of November.
No all-tournament team was reported to The Erwin Record.
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Smith said last week’s tournament action has prepared his team for the upcoming conference schedule, including rival Johnson County.
“The competition we played in Knoxville is really what is going to help us,” Smith said. “Johnson County will be tough.”
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The Blue Devils returned to action on Tuesday, Jan. 5, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline against Johnson County.
The Blue Devils will return to the Devils’ Den on Friday, Jan. 8, against Sullivan North.
Junior varsity opens the night for the guys at 5 p.m. and is scheduled to be followed by varsity action at 8 p.m.