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Lady Devils fall just short of championship round

Unicoi County High School Lady Blue Devil basketball team (5-9) dropped its semifinals contest to Daniel Boone, 54-51, on Monday, Dec. 29, in the Johnson City Honda Trailblazer Classic played at Daniel Boone.
A win on Monday would have advanced the ladies to the championship round. The loss sent the ladies to the consolation round where they played Cloudland after The Erwin Record’s press deadline on Tuesday, Dec. 30.
In a game with multiple lead changes, Daniel Boone took the opening quarter 14-10 while Unicoi County would knot things up, 21-21, by halftime.
The Lady Blue Devils anchored a 32-29 lead heading into the fourth, but Daniel Boone’s Taylor Carmichael helped orchestrate the win for the Lady Trailblazers by knocking down a pair of shots from the charity stripe with under six seconds remaining.
The Lady Devils were able to get one final shot off with Webb throwing up a three-pointer in the hopes of a foul, but Boone would survive to play in the title game against Dobyns-Bennett.
Destinie Hayes led the way with 11 points and nine rebounds against Boone. Chelsey Harness and Neelee Griffith scored nine points each.
Hannah Rice tacked on eight points. Morgan Lee Brown scored six points on two three-pointers and Ashlie Padgett scored one point.
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Webb hauled in 18 points, including five three-pointers, and the Lady Blue Devils used an offensive showcase to knock off Sequoyah 74-41 on Saturday, Dec. 27, in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Five UCHS players scored in double figures and a stingy defensive effort nearly kept the Lady Chief from the 40-point plateau.
“Collectively, as a team, we did things we were working on,” head coach Kerri King said. “Fixing a part here, a part there, it came together tonight. We did a good job keeping that intensity up. Once we got that little lead after halftime, we didn’t let up.”
Webb and Rice (14 points) combined for 32 of the team’s final total but King’s squad saw production off the bench from freshman Halie Padgett (13 points, seven rebounds, four steals).
“We had a lot of our young players step up,” King said. “Ashlie Padgett and Neelee Griffith are starting to adjust to their guard roles and Halie is coming around. We know what Destine can do and being able to give her a rest is important.”
It was all about keeping her composure, Halie Padgett said.
“I was just trying to not be nervous,” Halie said, “and just go out there and play as hard as I could. This win was big for us and gives us confidence for our future games.”
Halie had a flow going with Harness (11 points and eight assists), who often set her up on plays, with the senior doing the same for her underclassman teammate.
“It was important for us,” Harness said. “Just to go out there, move farther in the winners’ bracket. It was big for all of us, it was a good offensive night for all of us. We did a good job of distributing the ball well.”
Griffith, Brown and Lynch also added key plays in the game, according to coach King.
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The opening night of the tournament saw UCHS rely on the hot hand of Webb for the go-ahead two-pointer with under nine seconds remaining to knock off Volunteer 48-46 on Friday, Dec. 26.
Webb drilled the go-ahead bucket after the Lady Falcons pushed their way down to the finish line. With past experience under her belt, it was no problem, Webb said.
“I know we needed a good look,” Webb said. “It didn’t matter who took the shot because we have confidence in each other, but it landed on me and I knew that shot needed to go in. This win has given us a huge turnaround coming off our break.”
While Webb added late game heroics, Hayes pulled in a career-best 26 rebounds on the night.
“I started off really slow,” Hayes said, “but as the game went on, I knew I needed to pick it up. I just did what I needed to do. We knew we needed this win. We’ve been practicing real hard and its good to see it pay off tonight.”
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The Lady Blue Devils will return to the regular season routine on Friday, Jan. 2, on the road at Madison County, N.C.
The ladies will return to Three Rivers Conference play at Sullivan South on Tuesday, Jan. 6. They will also travel to face conference foe Johnson County on Friday, Jan. 9.
Junior varsity action opens the slate of games each night at 3:30 p.m. while the varsity team is scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m.