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JV Devils fall to Longhorns in tournament final

Less than 24 hours after falling in a lopsided game to the Elizabethton Cyclones, the Unicoi County High School junior varsity boys’ basketball team avenged the loss with a lopsided victory of their own.
In the semifinal round of the Three Rivers Conference Junior Varsity Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 6, the Blue Devils used a quick start to defeat the Cyclones, 52-32, at the Devils’ Den in Erwin. The victory sent the team to the championship round against Johnson County.
Thanks to points from Michael Howell, Austin O’Dell, Brett Strother, Danny Lowery and Chase McNabb, the Blue Devils held a 19-9 lead at the end of the first quarter on Saturday and never looked back.
The Cyclones had defeated the Blue Devils, 63-40, in Elizabethton on Friday, Feb. 5.
Against the Cyclones on Saturday, McNabb led UCHS with 18 points. O’Dell scored 10; Strother and Lowery scored five points each; Ty Thelen and Ben Hensley scored 4 points each; and Gavin Casey and Howell scored three points each.
In the championship game against Johnson County on Saturday, an early 10-point deficit to the Longhorns proved to be too much for the Blue Devils to overcome.
The Longhorns took a 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and rode that momentum to a 42-27 halftime lead. The Blue Devils managed to cut three points off the lead in the third quarter, thanks to 15 points from McNabb. UCHS trailed 54-42 at the end of the frame.
The Devils continued to battle in the fourth quarter, as the competition between the two rivals schools became more and more heated.
UCHS outscored the Longhorns 23-8 in the quarter to tie the game, 65-65, before Johnson County scored two points with seconds to go.
The Blue Devils had a chance to tie the game or take the lead with a final possession, but McNabb’s three-pointer just missed. Johnson County won the game, 67-65.
McNabb scored 29 points in the game, including four three-pointers. Casey scored 11; Thelen scored nine; Howell scored six; Strother and Lowery scored four points each; and O’Dell scored two.
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After falling the night before against the Lady Cyclones, the UCHS junior varsity girls’ basketball team would not go down without a fight on Saturday, Feb. 6.
The Lady Devils received a game-high 15 points from Chloe Powers, but were unable to control the paint as Elizabethton took a 46-34 victory against the defending junior varsity tournament champion Lady Devils..
Powers got things going early for UCHS with two three-pointers, but Elizabethton was able to go up, 14-8, at the end of the frame. Kenedy King, Kaitlyn Tilson and Powers helped the squad power into the second half to outscore Elizabethton, 10-9, to cut into the deficit. The Lady Cyclones held a 23-18 at halftime.
After a stalemate in the third, Elizabethton followed through in the fourth with five different players contributing to a 17-11 fourth quarter to earn the victory.
King tossed in nine points for UCHS. Rachel Lynch and Tilson finished with four points each. The ladies also received quality minutes from Jenna Wilcox, Natalia Mendoza and Taylor Thomas.
Camryn Koroma led the Lady Cyclones with 12 points. Beth Reece, a Happy Valley transfer, tossed in 10 points for the squad, including six points in the fourth quarter.
In the championship of the girls tournament, Happy Valley stormed the gates on offense to defeat the Lady Cyclones, 76-64.
Happy Valley advanced to the final with a victory over Sullivan East earlier in the day.
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The UCHS junior varsity teams are scheduled to face Cloudland in Erwin on Thursday, Feb. 11, Happy Valley in Erwin on Friday, Feb. 12, and Hampton in Erwin on Monday, Feb. 15.