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Season ends for Blue Devils

Youthful Blue Devils couldn’t stop a “Young movement” from Greeneville.
Takeem Young and Raheem Young combined for 46 points and the Greene Devils upended the Unicoi County High School basketball team, 75-61, in the Region 1-AA quarterfinals at Hal Henard Gym on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
With the victory, Greeneville advanced to the regional semifinals, while the Blue Devils (14-20) concluded their season with a loss.
“They beat us off the dribble,” Blue Devil head coach John English said of the Greeneville offense. “It was pick your poison with them. You show them man, they shoot layups … you go zone, they shoot the three-pointers lights out … we didn’t have an answer for it.”
Quan Harrison was one of the Greene Devils that kept the pressure early on UCHS with three of the team’s six shots from behind the arc in the first quarter to take a 20-11 lead.
Defense turned into offense for Greeneville during the remainder of the first half. The Greene Devils held a 41-21 lead at intermission.
The Blue Devils cut the deficit within 13 points in the second half but Greene Devil Takeem Young took control, rattling off 13 of his game-high 27 points to keep the Greeneville advantage at 15 points, 60-45, heading into the fourth quarter.
Raheem Young and Harrison scored 19 points each in the victory.
UCHS was led across the board by underclassmen. Sophomore Dylan Putman and freshman Trevor Hensley tallied 10 points each.
The Blue Devils were able to place 10 players in the scoring column, but a lackluster first half proved to be the downfall, according to head coach John English.
“I was really proud of our second half effort,” he said. “Down 20 and we pulled within 13 there in the third. I’m just proud of their fight. We just didn’t have enough to match them there in that first half.”
Senior Zach Thelen helped create havoc in the second half with seven boards and finished with eight points. Freshman post Clay Simpson helped Thelen in the post, also scoring eight points.
Seniors Davis Webb and Merrick Nicksic went for seven and six points, respectively.
Junior Dalton Spears, freshman Troy Podvin, senior Will Shelton and sophomore Jacob Smith rounded out the scoring with three points each. Senior Austin Hendrickson also added a pair of steals and four assists.
Hendrickson, Shelton, Thelen, Nicksic and Webb are the seniors who exit the program with the loss.
“You always hate to see seniors leave,” English said. “These guys, with the exception of Merrick, have been here for years. Merrick came in this year and became a big part of it … it was just like he had been here all along with the way he got a lot with the guys.
“We’re going to miss them. They’re great kids and we spent some time in the locker room talking about the years and the highlights. Unless you win it all, you always end the season wanting a little bit more, but we want to focus on the good times we had and good wins we had this season.
“The younger guys have a challenge ahead of them to come back, get to work, get better and get the program back to where we expect it to be.”