When push came to shove, the Lady Devils were not to be denied their first conference win of the year.
Unicoi County (4-3, 1-0) handled their business and defeated Sullivan East (8-2, 1-1) in the teams Three Rivers Conference opener at the Devils Den in Erwin on Friday night.
We had an off-shooting night, head coach Kerri King said. We did get deeper into foul trouble than we wanted, but our girls gutted it out. Anytime you can get a win on a night like this is big.
The Lady Devils opened the first quarter on fire outscoring Sullivan East, 21-12.
Lady Patriot head coach Tommy Forrester and his ball club were not going to go away easily they cut the lead to seven going into halftime thanks to a nine-point quarter from Savanna Summers.
Then, things would get interesting for both sides.
The Lady Patriots would come out of the locker room swinging, going on a 16-0 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter to take a 44-39 lead.
The Lady Devils put an end to the unanswered scoring stretch when Haley Webb came up with a steal at the 2:40 mark of the period near mid-court that generated into a fast break bucket. The steal and basket gave the Lady Devils the momentum they needed.
We were down at that point, but Haley (Webb) came up with a big turnover, King said. I thought it really helped us get back into the game and regain some confidence.
Chelsey Harness scored a basket and a trip to the charity stripe for Webb put the Lady Devils back on top, until East responded with baskets of their own to take a 48-47 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
After a quick Lady Patriot basket, a Laughren two-pointer pushed the deficit to 50-49.
A successful trip to the free-throw line for Edwards placed the Lady Devil back on top, 51-50, while Webbs three-pointer right after gave the Lady Devils extra breathing room with a four-point lead.
The fundamentals got the job done, according to King.
I thought we shot well from the free-throw line tonight and Destinie (Hayes) had a great night rebounding for us, she added. Our girls just kept fighting and thats what you have to do against a good-caliber team like Sullivan East.
Hayes was the leader on the boards for UCHS with 12 rebounds.
Emily Edwards led the Lady Devils with 17 points. Laughren and Harness had double-figure performances during the night, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively, in the victory. Webb scored 10 points.
Sullivan East was led by an 18 point effort from Summers. Tori James clocked in with a double-double for the Lady Patriots, sinking 14 points with 12 boards during the night.
The Lady Devils opened this week at home against Cloudland after The Erwin Records press deadline.
A trip to Elizabethton will be in store for the Lady Devils on Friday, with Three Rivers Conference implications on the line against the Lady Cyclones. UCHS will wrap up the busy slate of games on Saturday, with a trip to Afton for a clash against the Chuckey-Doak Lady Black Knights. All varsity action is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., while junior varsity Lady Devil action will begin at 3:30 p.m.
The UCHS junior varsity kept their winning streak alive after surviving an overtime scare, 50-49, against the Sullivan East underclassmen. Hannah Rice led all scorers with 19 points.
By Curtis Carden