By Richard Rourk
It was the tale of two Unicoi County High School girls basketball teams (11-6, 4-3) last week. The Lady Devils started the week off with a road loss to non-conference foe Cloudland on Tuesday, Jan. 15. On Friday, Jan. 18, the Lady Devils bounced back and returned home to defeat league opponent Happy Valley, to take over possession of second place in the Three Rivers Conference.
Cloudland, who is in second place in the Mountain East Conference, defeated the Lady Devils 63-49 on Jan. 15. The Lady Highlanders were led by senior Trinity Vines who scored 24 on the night.
The Lady Devils did not have an answer for Vines and to make matters worse for the Lady Devils they lost junior guard Ashtan Vance to an ankle injury. Vance could be out for a week or more with an ankle sprain.
Leading the way for the Lady Devils in the loss was sophomore guard Caroline Podvin with 17 points. The three seniors finished the night with 25 combined points for the Lady Devils – guard Chloe Powers scored 10 points, while guard Kaylee Hendrickson put up 8 points and post Allee Griffith finished the night with 7 points. Vance put up 5 points before her injury, and sophomore guard Leah Edney scored 2 points in the loss.
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The Lady Devils returned to the Devils’ Den on Friday, Jan. 18, to a fiery crowd for their key Three Rivers Conference matchup against the Happy Valley Lady Warriors.
The Lady Warriors came into the matchup in second place and left Unicoi County in fourth place after losing to the Lady Devils 41-31. The victory elevated the Lady Devils from third place to second place in the Three Rivers Conference.
The Lady Devils had to play without a key component to their team, as Vance sat out against the Lady Warriors.
“Ashtan sprained her ankle against Cloudland, but we are hoping to have her back next week,” head coach Kerri King told The Erwin Record.
The Lady Devils took control of the game in the first quarter and never looked back. King’s team was able to control the tempo of the game, disrupt shots and most importantly they were able slow down the Lady Warriors key scorer, senior guard Adrienne Henegar. Henegar had been averaging 17.6 points a game entering the contest and the Lady Devils held her to single digits. “We did a fantastic job holding Henegar to just three points, and keeping them off of the offensive glass,” King said of her team.
Sophomore guard Tenley Holt lit up the scoreboard with 13 points and played aggressively on both sides of the ball. Griffith, who also played a very physical game, scored 9 points. Powers and Podvin each scored 7 points. Hendrickson finished with 4 points and Edney had 1 point in the key conference victory.
The physicality displayed by the Lady Devils is a promising sign for the rest of the season as the Lady Devils move forward in conference play.
“Our conference is a dog fight and you better be ready to scrap,” King said of the Three Rivers Conference.
With less than a month to go in the season, every game is crucial in the Three Rivers Conference as five games separate the top team in the conference, Sullivan Central (14-9, 7-0) from the last place team Elizabethton (3-12, 2-5.)
“Every next game is the biggest game of the season and we have to come prepared every night,” King told The Erwin Record.
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The Lady Devils traveled to Sullivan South to take on the Lady Rebels in conference play on Tuesday, Jan. 22, after The Erwin Record’s deadline.
The Lady Devils then travel to Johnson County on Friday, Jan. 25, to face the Lady Longhorns in conference play.
The Lady Devils will return home on Tuesday, Jan. 29, against the red hot Sullivan East Lady Patriots in a key Three Rivers matchup. Tipoff for all the games is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.