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Lady Devils defeat Hampton

It was a statement win in the biggest of ways by Unicoi County High School.
Junior Lady Devil Neelee Griffith posted a double-double and senior Hannah Rice dropped 21 points as the team pulled off the upset against Hampton, 46-42, on Monday, Feb. 15.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak by UCHS (11-18), as they prepare for the District 1-AA girls tournament set to begin Thursday in Colonial Heights. UCHS holds the fourth seed finishing with a 6-6 record in the Three Rivers Conference.
With the postseason looming, UCHS received a dose of momentum defeating Hampton – who had beaten the state-ranked No. 7 Class AA Grainger Lady Grizzlies the previous week.
“I thought they did an excellent job of staying composed,” Lady Devil head coach Kerri King said of her team’s performance against the Lady Bulldogs. “They just kept chipping away at that lead. They saw the bigger picture, didn’t let some mistakes get to them and held it together as a group.”
In a cohesive effort, Griffith brought the hammer for her team in the paint with 15 points and 12 rebounds. After moving spots due to teammates being injured, the junior said the team needs to carry over the attitude into the postseason.
“We just have to keep playing as hard as we did tonight,” Griffith said. “We kept battling and playing defense. It was a great win tonight.”
Rice tacked on three steals, three rebounds and two assists for UCHS. Ashlie Padgett had six points and eight boards, and Kenedy King added a free throw and three boards.
Ashley Edwards had a key three-pointer to open the second half.
Alexus Grubbs led Hampton with 15 points and Shyanne Tuelle added 13.
• • •
Three wasn’t a crowd for Happy Valley.
The Lady Warriors drilled five three-pointers in the first half, including a trio from Kaitlyn Roberts, en route to a 53-31 victory over UCHS on Saturday, Feb. 13, in Erwin to end the Three Rivers Conference slate for both teams.
King saw her Lady Blue Devils put up a fight, but fall to a volley of shots from beyond the arc in the early stages of the game.
“I feel like they’re playing harder and I’m proud of their effort,” King said of the team’s different schemes following injuries to Halie Padgett and Kaylee Hendrickson. “The girls are battling, playing hard, fighting for rebounds, but I feel like we just have those stretches where our shot selection goes crazy and we go on a scoreless streak for too long.”
After a sluggish start resulted in an 11-4 deficit, UCHS began to chip away in the second quarter as Ashlie Padgett and Powers combined for nine points in the frame.
King pulled the Lady Devils within three, 19-16, but Happy Valley’s 8-2 run in the last three minutes of the half kept the Lady Devils from getting closer. The Lady Warriors led 27-18 at the half.
Happy Valley capitalized on momentum to start off third period, and propped the lead to double digits, 42-27, heading into the fourth.
With UCHS going cold from the perimeter, Griffith (12 points) made her presence felt down low on offense and defense as she contained senior Lady Warrior Kalee Johnson to 10 points on the night.
Roberts finished 13 points and Johnson added 10 for the Lady Warriors. Rice and Powers added six points each for UCHS.
Ashlie Padgett finished with four points and King ended with three. Rachel Lynch, Allee Griffith and Kaitlyn Tilson also saw the court for the Lady Devils.
• • •
Cloudland was able to outlast a second half rally by UCHS to earn a 50-45 victory on Thursday, Feb. 11, during UCHS Senior Night.
The Lady Devils fired out of the gate with a decisive 11-5 advantage as Griffith worked her way down low against the Lady Highlanders.
The offense began to flow for Cloudland heading into intermission, outscoring UCHS 24-8 behind a tough effort down low by senior Lady Highlander Payton Johnson (17 points) and a five-point stretch from freshman guard Megan Lunsford.
Griffith and Powers had eight-point performances for UCHS, while King and Edwards scored six each.
Cloudland saw Trinity Vines and Shian Strickland join Johnson in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the win.
• • •
District 1-AA tournament pairings are scheduled to be made official on Wednesday, Feb.17, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The Lady Devils have been projected to play Thursday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. against either Sullivan North or Sullivan South, pending regular season finishes. The tournament will be played at Sullivan South High School.