By Trey Williams
The Unicoi County girls basketball team won its Three Rivers Conference opener despite missing two starters due to quarantine for coronavirus exposure.
The Blue Devils were without Leah Edney and promising freshman Allie Lingerfelt in a 47-26 defeat of Happy Valley on Friday in the Devils Den.
Caroline Podvin scored 19 points and freshman Faith Bennett added 11.
The roster hits were too much to overcome in a 45-41 home loss to Cloudland on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Podvin led the way with 11 points in that one.
“Against Cloudland we had two starters out due to COVID and got down by about 17 and fought back with very inexperienced players in the mix,” Unicoi coach Kerri King said. “Faith played well in that game and then, of course, scored in double digits against Happy Valley. That’s just her contributing however we need her to. She’s full of scrap and hustle, and a player like that is just a dream to coach.”
Hannah Shelton (nine points), Tenley Holt (eight) and Abigail Rush (seven) all helped the Blue Devils nearly complete the rally against Cloudland.
“We haven’t had our full team yet, not in any game,” King said. “And we didn’t get any scrimmages or summer games and we are mixing two freshmen and three sophomores into our rotation. The team has no choice but to learn and develop on the fly, and I think that’s a tough way to get acclimated. But I am very proud of how they are responding.”
Unicoi County’s visit to David Crockett on Dec. 7 was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns with the Pioneers program. King said the Blue Devils would play Unaka instead.
Unicoi is scheduled to visit Sullivan South on Friday, Dec. 11. Edney can return for the South game. Lingerfelt will be available afterward.
“None of our COVID-related quarantines have had to do with basketball,” King said. “All have been community-spread and linked to individual contact personally.”