By Trey Williams
Freshman Allie Lingerfelt is shooting straight through the learning curve. The Unicoi County rookie has hit the ground running at the varsity level. She scored a team-high 18 points in a 40-37 home loss to Elizabethton on Wednesday and followed that with seven points and a game-high seven assists in a 56-38 defeat of Johnson County on Friday in the Devils Den.
Despite the numbers – Lingerfelt has scored in double figures a number of games during her rookie campaign – she says the move up from middle school has been a significant challenge. “I think the toughest adjustments have to be the speed and physicality,” said Lingerfelt, who seemingly grows more comfortable every game. “Yes, as I gain more experience I’m becoming more confident, and I know I can count on my teammates.”
Being a key cog in a hard-fought Three Rivers Conference game against Elizabethton was exciting. “It was fun but intense,” Lingerfelt said. “I was glad to contribute, but wish we could’ve won.”
Lingerfelt was 7-for-7 at the foul line before fouling out. Each of those facts carried some merit with Unicoi County coach Kerri King. The rest of the Blue Devils combined to go 2-for-3 at the foul line.
“Against Elizabethton we were playing not to lose and weren’t assertive,” King said. “The indicator was lack of people getting to the free throw line and three of the starters didn’t have a single foul.”
King’s message appeared to have been received 48 hours later. The Blue Devils piled up 18 assists and 16 steals while committing only six turnovers in the victory against Johnson County. Senior Caroline Podvin had 19 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
“Caroline’s a huge player for our team,” Lingerfelt said. “She’s a scoring threat and comes up with a lot of rebounds. Caroline is also composed and helps provide relief in close games.
In addition to Caroline, Leah (Edney), Tenley (Holt) and Emma (Griffith) have been great senior leaders.” Abigail Rush had six assists and five steals against Johnson County after matching Lingerfelt for the team high with two steals in the Elizabethton game. “Abba is just in a really good head space right now,” King said, “and that’s huge for our communication because she is a good talker on defense.”
Rush made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points against the Longhorns. “Abigail and Hannah (Shelton) are good shooters and come up with steals all the time,” said Lingerfelt, who is also happy to have teammates such as sophomores Laurel Osborne, Olivia Bailey and Chloe Watson and fellow freshman Faith Bennett, who scored nine points and made two treys against Johnson County.
“Laurel and Olivia come up with big rebounds and are a presence on the post. Faith can step into any role you put her in. She’s becoming a major threat. With Chloe now being able to play/eligible, we are excited to add her to the mix.” Holt had eight points and four steals against Johnson County, a game the Blue Devils led 52-25 early in the fourth quarter.
Unicoi County was scheduled to visit Sullivan Central on Tuesday. A victory would allow the Blue Devils to host a district tournament opener.