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Lady Devils fall in title game, advance to region

The Unicoi County High School Lady Devils with their runner-up plaque after the District 1-AA championship game on Monday, Feb. 19, at Elizabethton High School. UCHS fell to Sullivan Central and will go into this week’s Region 1-AA tournament as the second seed from their district. Pictured, from left, Kaylia Street, Leah Edney, Kaylee Hendrickson, Allee Griffith, Chloe Powers, Halie Padgett, Kenedy King, Rachel Lynch, Ashtan Vance and Tenley Holt. (Photo contributed by Teresa Parkey)

From Staff Reports

There are a lot of factors that can turn a basketball game in favor of one team or another. In the District 1-AA championship game played on Monday, Feb. 19, at Elizabethton High School that factor was free throw shooting.

Facing Sullivan Central (16-10), the Unicoi County High School girls basketball (20-9) team shot only 6 free throws for the game, making 3, while their opponent shot 29 and made 21.

“It’s hard to win a game when the team you’re playing gets to the line 29 times,” Lady Devil head coach Kerri King said. “That’s disappointing.”

King went on to say that she was proud of how her players competed in the championship game.

“They showed a lot of heart and toughness,” she said. “They gave a great effort against a good basketball team.”

The first quarter on Monday was a defensive battle as each team only scored 2 points in the quarter. Six points by Halie Padgett, a three-pointer by Kenedy King and a basket by Kaylee Hendrickson lifted the Lady Devils to a 14-10 at the break.

Fouls began to pile up on UCHS in the third quarter, but they stayed in the lead thanks to four points each by Chloe Powers and Hendrickson and a three-pointer by Tenley Holt. After three quarters, the Lady Devils led 27-25.

Things fell apart in the fourth for UCHS as Central got to the line 17 times, making 14, while the Lady Devils scored only 5 points – on a three-pointer by Hendrickson and a basket by Padgett – in the quarter. The Lady Cougars went to win the game, 48-32.

Padgett had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Hendrickson scored 9. Powers scored 4 and had 5 rebounds. King scored 3 and had 5 rebounds. Holt scored 3 and had 7 rebounds. Allee Griffith scored 2 and had 5 steals.

Following the game, Halie Padgett, Kaylee Hendrickson and Allee Griffith were named to the District 1-AA all-tournament team.

In the consolation game on Monday, Sullivan South defeated Sullivan East, 45-36.

• • •

In the district semifinals, the Lady Devils overcame a 14-2 deficit in the first half to defeat Sullivan South (22-10) on Saturday, Feb. 17. The 55-40 win guaranteed UCHS a home game in the first round of the Region 1-AA tournament and a spot in the district title game.

“I am proud of the way the girls kept playing hard when South took that early lead,” King said. “They didn’t give up and fought themselves back into the game.”

UCHS narrowed the deficit to four points, 18-14, at the end of the first quarter and had tied the game at 26 by halftime. South outscored the Lady Devils by one point in the third to take a 36-35 lead into the final eight minutes.

In the fourth, the Lady Devils’ pressure defense began to wear down the Lady Rebels. UCHS took advantage of South’s turnovers to take the lead for good.

“We converted on their turnovers to score,” King said. “Our defensive intensity was very good. We also got very good minutes from our bench in that game.”

The victory was the team’s 20th of the season.

“That’s a great accomplishment for us,” King said.

Hendrickson scored 13 points and had 5 assists in the win. Ashtan Vance scored 12 and had 4 assists. Griffith scored 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Padgett scored 9. Powers scored 8. Tenley Holt scored 5.

• • •

The Lady Devils opened the district tournament with a 54-41 win over the Johnson County Lady Longhorns (5-19) on Thursday, Feb. 15.

After taking a 13-3 lead, foul trouble for UCHS helped the Lady Longhorns scrap their way back into the game. At halftime the Lady Devils held a 24-21 lead. During halftime the ladies regrouped and came out in the third quarter on a run that would give them control of the game.

“Once we got past the foul trouble we were able to get the lineups we wanted on the floor,” King said. “That helped us in the second half.”

Padgett had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Powers scored 10 and had 6 rebounds. Vance scored 9 and had 4 rebounds. Holt scored 6 and had 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Hendrickson scored 5. Griffith scored 3. King scored 1.

• • •

The Lady Devils will host Greeneville (15-13) – the third seed from District 2-AA – on Friday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. in Erwin. A loss will end the season for UCHS. With a win, the Lady Devils will play either South Greene – the top seed from District 2-AA – or Sullivan East – the fourth seed from District 1-AA – in the semifinal round on Monday, Feb. 26, at Chuckey-Doak High School at 7:30 p.m.