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Team effort leads to lopsided victory over Knights

If momentum was needed going into their upcoming Three Rivers Conference games, the Lady Devils received a full dose of it last Tuesday night at the Devils Den.
Unicoi County (5-1) continued their solid play from the Grainger holiday tournament by disposing of the Chuckey-Doak Lady Black Knights (3-3) in non-conference action, 71-38, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 in Erwin.
Both sides of play were in full throttle during the early part of the first quarter with the Lady Devils opening with a 10-0 run over a five-minute span that set the tone of the game early for coach Josh Epperson’s squad.
“Defense was huge for us tonight,” Epperson said after the game. “The big emphasis for the game tonight was rebounding. We wanted to emphasize that and make sure we did a good job on the boards with Doak being known as a good rebounding team. And that plays a big deal on the defensive end … if they can’t get the second shot, they can’t score.
“We remembered they beat us on our own floor last year and that was in the back of the girls’ minds.”
Behind the solid play in the post was Chelsey Gardner, who tallied 10 rebounds and 21 points during the night.
“Everybody did a great job out there tonight,” coach Epperson explained. “Chelsey Gardner really stepped up for us tonight inside, the team did a great job getting her the ball inside and spreading the ball around. It was an overall team effort tonight.”
Gardner shared the same sentiment as her coach when talking about the effort against coach Beth Frye’s Lady Black Knights.
“It was a great team win,” Gardner explained. “Everybody did what they needed to do and it’s a big win for us going down the road as the season goes on.”
Another junior counterpart was a part of the heavy scoring efforts during the win.
“Emily Edwards had another big game for us,” Epperson said.
Edwards, was a part of the distribution of the ball from her point guard spot in addition to leading all scorers with 22 points.
The junior point guard also led the team in shots from behind the arc, nailing two three-pointers during the night.
Mikayla Bennett, who finished with seven points, was the other Lady Devil to show off her perimeter shooting getting a shot from the three-point line to fall.
Defensively, the Lady Devils forced nine turnovers on steals, with Edwards, Gardner, Rilie King, Emmie Thompson and Brooke Barnett grabbing steals against the Lady Black Knights.
King finished with eight points and Thompson scored two points.
Even the young Lady Devils got involved in the action during the night, with the junior varsity crew coming in during the fourth quarter.
“Even our younger girls on the bench got involved during the night,” the Lady Devils coach explained. “Every girl that dressed out tonight got a chance to contribute in the win.”
Tiffany Laughren led the freshmen girls in scoring during the night with nine points, including a steal.
Chelsey Harness recorded her first varsity score during the final seconds left in the game against Chuckey-Doak. Harness recorded a steal during the final minutes of the game as did Haley Webb.
The Devils will have a busy week ahead in the first week of December, with Elizabethton traveling to the Devils Den on Tuesday, Dec. 6, to open conference play for Epperson’s team.
Unicoi County will travel to Sullivan East, in Bluff City, on Friday. Saturday will be the last of the three game stretch, with UCHS traveling to Hampton High School for non-conference action.
All three games are set to begin at 6:30 p.m.