By Trey Williams
After losing a hard-fought game to Daniel Boone in the Hardee’s Classic quarterfinals and dropping a not-so-hard-fought decision to Volunteer in the losers’ bracket on Wednesday, Unicoi County girls basketball coach Brandon Broyles erased some of the frustration with a win in the consolation round on Friday at David Crockett.
Broyles recorded his 100th career victory when the Blue Devils got a 52-38 victory against his former employer, Tennessee High.
Sophomore guard Allie Lingerfelt led the Blue Devils (3-3) against the Vikings with 12 points and Laurel Osborne scored 10. Jocelyn Metcalf added nine.
Unicoi County opened the game on a 12-0 run and led 46-23 after three quarters.
The energetic opening was a welcomed sight for Broyles after watching Unicoi County score five points in the second quarter of a 51-37 loss to Volunteer on Wednesday.
“We played hard Friday,” said Broyles, who went 97-73 coaching the North Greene boys five seasons before taking a position as an assistant on the Tennessee High boys team in 2017. “We got in the press and they couldn’t get it up the floor. Wednesday, I didn’t feel like we had a whole lot of energy and just didn’t play very hard. I told the kids afterward I was very discouraged with how we played against Volunteer. Up until that point I felt like we’d got back to ole Erwin basketball, you know, physical and tough.
“We didn’t have that same energy and fire against Volunteer and I challenged ‘em pretty good. They came out Friday and responded really well.”
Broyles, in his first season with Unicoi County, has been without starting point guard Abigail Rush the first six games due to a dislocated shoulder she sustained in a preseason scrimmage against North Greene.
“Her sister Hayley’s had to play a lot of minutes for us as a freshman,” Broyles said.
Unicoi County floundered against Volunteer’s press while a double-digit deficit materialized.
“They pressed us a little bit and we just panicked,” Broyles said. “We had some wide-open shots against Volunteer and just missed ‘em. I kind of told the kids it was the basketball gods. If you play hard, the basketball gods will smile on you. And if you’re not playing hard and just kind of going through the motions, you know, sometimes the basketball gods don’t smile down on you too much.”
Olivia Bailey and Lingerfelt scored 13 and nine points, respectively, against Volunteer.
“Volunteer shot it real well against us early,” Broyles said. “We held them to nine points in the third quarter and eight points in the fourth quarter. So we locked in after halftime. We just dug ourselves a hole.
“We only scored five points the second quarter against Volunteer. We hit one shot from the floor and three foul shots. You just can’t do that. You can’t have five-point quarters and expect to win. And a lot of it was self-inflicted.
“We might’ve made ‘em look good. The good thing is we get two more shots at ‘em.”
Broyles is relatively satisfied with a 3-3 start for a team that was replacing Caroline Podvin and endured a coaching change.
“To be honest, I’m pleased with where we’re at,” he said. “I think we’re making strides in the right direction. They lost a lot from last year’s team. They lost a 1,000-point scorer. What we had coming back, I think we may be ahead of where people realistically thought we might be coming in.
“They’ve been a joy to watch because they’re playing hard and playing tough. As long as they do that, I know the community will be behind ‘em. I told the kids that for the steps they took as far as playing hard and getting after people, it takes one performance like Wednesday and people will say, ‘Well, maybe it’s been a fluke.’ We have to be tough and physical.”
Unicoi County is scheduled to host Cloudland on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.