By Curtis Carden
Happy Valley put the pedal to the metal and stalled any chance of an upset by the Blue Nation on Monday, Feb. 22.
The Lady Warriors limited the Unicoi County High School Lady Blue Devils (12-20) to six points in the final frame to pull away with a 54-35 victory in the District 1-AA tournament consolation game at Sullivan South High School.
With the fourth-place finish, the Lady Blue Devils will travel to play District 2-AA champions, Grainger, on Friday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.
Were no stranger to going on the road early in the regional tournament, UCHS head coach Kerri King said. So, I dont see that affecting the girls, but we know from here on out it is tough opponents all the way through the rest of the tournament.
Against Happy Valley on Monday, freshman Lady Devil Chloe Powers had the hot hand for her squad,v finishing with a game-high 17 points. Powers busy week in Sullivan County earned her District 1-AA all-tournament honors following the conclusion of the nightcap, where Elizabethton defeated Sullivan East 69-63 for the district championship.
Hannah Rice tallied seven points, Neelee Griffith chipped in six and Kenedy King added five points to round out the scoring efforts for UCHS.
Happy Valley was led by senior Kalee Johnsons 16-point performance.
A slow-start by the No. 1 state-ranked Elizabethton Lady Cyclones on Saturday, Feb. 20, allowed the Lady Devils to hold their own early in the semifinal game of the District 1-AA tournament. But the whirlwind of offense set in for the Carter County ladies, as they earned a 79-35 win to send UCHS to Mondays third place contest against Happy Valley.
The Lady Devils kept things close in the second and went into halftime within striking distance, trailing 45-26 after a three-pointer by Kenedy King.
Elizabethton cranked up the intensity in the third to pull away and earn a bid to the title game.
Kenedy King finished with a team-high nine points, while Neelee Griffith scored seven points and hauled in seven boards.
Kayla and Kelci Marosites combined for 30 points to pace the Elizabethton offense.
The freshman moniker was out the window fast for Powers during the district quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 17, in Colonial Heights.
Powers finished with a team-high 15 points as UCHS survived an upset bid by a scrappy Sullivan North, 43-31, to earn a bid to the regional tournament.
The Lady Golden Raiders had the Lady Devils number in the early going, controlling the tempo with a bit of stall ball in the first quarter. Blue Nation saw their ladies go up, 6-2, after a limited amount of offense.
Their gameplan was to keep it slow, King said. … We had to adjust to what was comfortable for us, but I thought once we got out and pressed a little bit that we did well.
Powers came in and played a key role for the team along with other Lady Devils seeing more time on the court.
She is a freshman, but weve counted on her all season long, King said of Powers. She feels comfortable in that role now. We gave Allee (Griffith) and Kaitlyn (Tilson) some time. I thought we did a good job of keeping that fluidity on the court … our depth has been a problem this year, but I thought we were able to do a good job of keeping the plan in place in the second half.
An added incentive was the do-or-die mode of the quarterfinals, Powers said, as some of the girls on the roster made their first appearance in a postseason atmosphere.
We were really tense, Powers said. Weve worked hard this season and we want to show our seniors that we can compete with them to keep the season going. I felt thats what made us tense … We were having a hard time finding the flow of the game.
Edwards and Griffith posted eight points each for UCHS, while King added six. Rice, Rachel Lynch and Allee Griffith tacked on a bucket each to round out the Lady Devil scoring.
Sullivan North was led by 17 points from Shenoah Bradley.