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Devils wrap up regular season

Coby Jones rode the wave of defense, calm and composed.
Jones went off for a game-high 16 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, and made passes when needed to help the No. 9 ranked Class A Hampton Bulldogs defeat Unicoi County High School, 59-48, on Monday, Feb. 15, in Erwin. The game was the last of the regular season for both squads.
The loss moved UCHS to 17-11 on the year heading into District 1-AA tournament play this week. The Blue Devils ended last week on a high note against Happy Valley, winning in their Three Rivers Conference finale to hold the third seed in the league.
On Monday, the ‘Dogs used five players in the first quarter to deter a trio of UCHS three-pointers, two from Hunter Hensley and one from Dylan Putman, to take the 15-13 advantage at the end of the first.
Blue Nation, who were playing without sophomore post Clay Simpson, were able to bank on Jacob Smith, and opportune shots from Trevor Hensley and Putman to cut the Hampton lead down to a point, 21-20, at halftime.
With the shot selection limited due to the defense, UCHS was outscored 16-11 in the third period and the ‘Dogs carried over the momentum to close out the fourth with the victory.
Sophomore Trevor Hensley led the Blue Devils in scoring with 15 points and was joined by 11-point performances from Hunter Hensley and Putman. Smith added eight points and Dalton Spears had three to round out the UCHS scoring.
Chris Holtsclaw and Wyatt Lyons joined Hampton’s Jones in double figures with 13 and 10 points to lead their team.
Both teams met back in December in Carter County after UCHS earned a 65-62 victory after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dylan Putman. Monday’s victory moved Hampton’s win-streak to 13 games heading into their postseason, while the loss snapped the Blue Devils’ two-game streak.
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Trevor Hensley had things gelling and led a three-headed scoring monster of scoring as UCHS capped off Three Rivers Conference action in style.
After holding only a two-point lead, 42-40, at the end of the third quarter, the Blue Devils cut loose in the fourth to topple Happy Valley, 69-47, on Saturday, Feb. 13, in Erwin.
With the Warriors coming off a near upset against Elizabethton the previous week, UCHS used a solid effort across the board to clinch the third seed for the postseason. Hensley was clicking from the field, finishing with a game-high 25 points in the win,18 coming in the second half.
“I thought we did a good job taking care of the ball in the second half,” Blue Devil head coach Michael Smith said. “We did get more deliberate, trying to use a little bit of the clock with a five-, six-, seven-point lead and ended up extending it to what it ended up because we were making the shots.”
UCHS used the bruisers down low of Simpson and Smith to turn on the jets for a 23-17 lead heading to the second quarter. However, Simpson went down with an injury at the end of the first quarter and the Warriors were able to utilize the opportunity to pull the game within a bucket, 29-27, at the half.
“They both did a good job early on,” Smith said of the duo down low. “When Clay was out, we gave up a few rebounds, but some of those came from the guards not boxing out. Jacob did a good job of working down low, boxing out and knocking down shots.”
Smith finished with a double-double of 13 points and 13 boards for UCHS.
Happy Valley continued to stay within a bucket heading to the fourth, even taking the lead, but UCHS started to feel it from the arc, including a stretch of three-pointers from Trevor Hensley, Putman and Chase McNabb.
Putman tallied 17 points and eight assists. McNabb and Spears scored six points Austin O’Dell rounded out the Blue Devil scoring with a bucket in the late stages of the fourth quarter.
“I told them to enjoy the night, and whether we play Hampton Monday night or not is irrelevant,” Smith said. “We’ve got Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to work on before getting ready for Happy Valley again … I believe that’s where it will end up as the three-six matchup. We played straight man tonight, so we’re going to work on different things on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball to get ready for that game.”
Josh Hammonds cashed in 16 points and Austin Hicks had 12 to lead Happy Valley in the game.
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With Cloudland looking to put a hamper on senior night festivities, the Blue Devils would not be denied.
Behind 27 points in the paint from Simpson and Smith, UCHS earned a 54-47 victory in the nightcap of non-conference play on Thursday, Feb. 11, in Erwin.
The Blue Devils went on the attack in the first half, boasting a 28-12 lead heading to intermission until the ‘Landers went on the offensive.
UCHS would bend, but not break, and pulled away in the fourth for the win.
Simpson led the way with a game-high 14 points with Smith adding on 13. Trevor Hensley also hit double figures with 11 points in the victory.
Birchfield paced Cloudland with 12 points and Dalton Vines added eight points.
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Brackets for the district tourney were not announced prior The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
UCHS is tentatively scheduled to play in the three-six contest on Friday, Feb. 19, at Sullivan South High School with a rematch against Happy Valley. The Blue Devils and Warriors are set to tipoff at 8 p.m. in Colonial Heights. Updates on the postseason will be featured online and the upcoming print issue.