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Lady Devils travel to Oliver Springs for tournament

Head coach Kerri King had her Unicoi County High School Lady Blue Devil basketball team on the road during Thanksgiving tournament action last week.
The team played on Friday, Nov. 28, against Oliver Springs, and on Saturday, Nov. 29, against Oneida in the annual Oliver Springs Thanksgiving Classic.
“We could have stayed locally and got to look at teams we already knew,” King said, “but, I thought it would be better for us to go on the road and see other quality programs away from the area.”
Friday’s contest against the host school school saw the Lady Devils battle down to the wire, but fall a point shy, 70-69.
“We were in a good spot early,” King said. “We were playing loose and with confidence, but down the stretch everything started to snowball. Oliver Springs took the lead off a three pointer with seven seconds left. Hannah (Rice) was able to take the inbound pass with around three seconds left but they had Haley (Webb) swarmed so she took it in for a layup with time expiring.”
Webb, the senior three-point specialist, led the Lady Devils with 19 points on the night, including six three-pointers. Rice scored 16 points during the contest and shot perfect from the charity stripe (9-for-9).
Another added spark off the bench was the return of sophomore Neelee Griffith, who made her return to the court after being sidelined with a leg injury.
“We’ll need Neelee to play well for us,” King said. “During the summer, she was in the groove … We’ve just got to get her reacclimated and have her play with her intensity level.”
Chelsey Harness also netted double-figure scoring with 12 points against Oliver Springs. Destinie Hayes recorded 10 boards and eight points.
The growth from bench players has been an added bonus, King added, with freshman post Halie Padgett working her way into the rotation.
“She’s really gives us a spark offensively,” King said. “She’ll give up some points, but she’ll come back on offense added set up some good looks.”
Padgett and Emily Lynch added three points each, while Morgan Lee Brown came off the bench to record six points.
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A quick turnaround for Saturday’s contest saw the Lady Devils deal with headaches off the court with bus trouble for their early tip against Oneida. The Lady Indians were able to score a win against UCHS, 63-47.
“We had bus trouble getting to the game,” King said. “Then we needed to get the girls fed and then we turned around and it was game time. It was a hectic turnaround and you could tell early in the first half we didn’t have our legs under us.”
The Lady Indians were able to keep Rice and Webb in check during the game.
With the key scorers out of the equation, UCHS was able to receive a spark from Brown with a game-high 16-point effort. Hayes reached double-double status with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Harness followed right behind with 11 points.
“We’ve played so many good teams close,” King said of the season thus far. “We’ve been getting close. Our girls can rebound from this and this experience will be big for us entering the conference stretch.”
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Three Rivers Conference play awaits the Lady Devils this week. UCHS opened up action on Tuesday, Dec. 2 with a home contest against Happy Valley after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The Lady Devils end the week with a trip to Kingsport to square off against Sullivan North.
Junior varsity action opens up play at 3:30 p.m. with varsity action scheduled for 6:30 p.m.