Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Scoreless stretch dooms Blue Devils

Sullivan East point guard Gavin Grubb led his team with 25 points and the Patriots held Unicoi County scoreless in a three-minute stand in the fourth to head back to Bluff City with a 74-64 win over the Blue Devils on Friday, Jan. 23 in Three Rivers Conference action in Erwin.
The loss moved the Blue Devils to 12-12 overall and 6-3 in the league. The Patriots went to 17-8 overall and 6-4 in the league. Sullivan East has won seven of their last eight games.
“They had a three or four minute stretch in the second half and strung together some stops,” Blue Devil head coach John English said. “That first half, nobody was getting stops. We knew it would come down on who could hit the run of stops and they did … they made us pay with three-pointers and put-backs that we couldn’t recover from.
“The effort was there, but it is a make-or-miss game some nights, we missed, they made and before you know it we’re down by 10,” English added. “We probably took ourselves out of the contention (in the conference) tonight, but things could still happen. We just have to figure out how to avoid those bad stretches. We’ve got a lot of growing up to do going into the district tournament if we’re going to be serious about being a player in that.”
In a game that featured over 20 lead changes, the atmosphere was to be expected, according to Patriots head coach John Dyer.
“Their perimeter guys are great,” Dyer said of the Blue Devils. “That number 11 (Merrick Nicksic), we couldn’t stay in front of him. They shoot it well. They came out ready, we came out ready it was just a fast-paced game. I thought as the game went on, we got better keeping them in front of us, we did a better job on the boards and kept attacking.
“They cut it back within six in the fourth, but Hunter Owens had a steal and a back tip-in that I thought was a big play for us and then we made the free throws down the stretch. Anytime you win (in Erwin), it is a huge win. We have so much respect for this program to their coaches, to their kids, to their history. I think this is the first time we’ve won in Erwin and they won at our place and we’ve played a whole bunch of times in the past six years.”
Unicoi County held the 22-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dylan Putman’s score just before the half gave the Blue Devils a 36-35 lead going into the locker room.
With 40 seconds to go in the third quarter Clay Simpson hit a free throw. This would be the last point scored by the Devils until the four-minute mark in the fourth on a bucket by Nicksic, who led the contest with a game-high 28 points.
Trevor Hensley, Zach Thelen and Nicksic helped Unicoi County cut the deficit back to six points, 61-55, but Owens and Grubbs used a back-to-back buckets to help propel the Patriots late.
Hensley scored 10 points, Putman added seven, Thelen added six and Spears had five. Austin Hendrickson added a three-pointer and Jacob Smith finished with six boards for the squad.
• • •
Clay Simpson, Michael Howell and Hunter Hensley each added eight point performances in the Blue Devils’ 45-43 junior varsity contest win over the Patriots.
• • •
UCHS opened the week with a trip to Elizabethton on Tuesday, Jan. 27, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The team will look to make up ground in the league as it ends this week with a home game against Sullivan South on Friday, Jan. 30. Next week, UCHS opens with Johnson County at home on Tuesday, Feb. 3. Junior varsity games are scheduled to begin 5 p.m. and the varsity takes the nightcap at 8 p.m.