By Trey Williams
Unicoi County quarterback/point guard Bryson Peterson picked Tom Brady to prevail in the Super Bowl, and he’s getting more comfortable picking his spots to complete drives on the basketball court. Peterson, a junior, scored 15 points in a 73-45 defeat of Johnson County on Friday at the Devils Den after scoring 13 points in an impressive 46-35 home win against Elizabethton on Wednesday. Fellow lead guard Ty Johnson is also becoming more of a scoring threat. Johnson scored nine of his 12 points against Elizabethton in the first half. “Ty and I have for sure gotten more comfortable getting to the rim,” Peterson said, “or pulling up and shooting a jumper.”
Ball security has also improved of late. Elizabethton coach Lucas Andrews said his Cyclones struggled to create turnovers against Unicoi County (7-4, 15-10). “Against Elizabethton and Johnson County we really cleaned it up and cut the turnovers down,” Peterson said. “So that really helped us in both of those games.”
The Blue Devils’ bread and butter this season has been their defense. “We are playing better in the defensive end, truly playing team defense,” Unicoi County coach John Good said. “On the offensive end we are getting more consistent play from our guards.”
Statistics showcased the Blue Devils’ defense last week. Elizabethton guard Jake Roberts scored 46 points in a win on Friday while handing Three Rivers Conference champion Sullivan East its first league loss. The entire Elizabethton team scored 35 against Unicoi County. “It was crazy to see Jake score 46 the other night,” Peterson said. “He’s a heck of a player. He never could get anything going against us the other night. Ty and Robbie (O’Dell) guarded him well and contained him and made it hard for him to do anything. “I feel like that game was honestly one of our best games on the defensive side of the ball. I feel like everyone stepped up and made it hard for them to score.”
Sophomore 6-foot-5 post Lucas Slagle tallied 24 points and 16 rebounds in the defeat of Johnson County. “Lucas had a heck of a game against Johnson County,” Peterson said. “He fought hard down low and when we gave it to him he scored. Nobody on their team could guard him so we just kept giving it to him. “When it comes to the rebounds Lucas is the kind of guy that goes up and will get the ball with two hands. He can out jump anyone in the gym. So he can just go up get any rebound he wants.” Slagle is averaging 10.8 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game this season.
“Lucas had a monster night versus Johnson County,” Good said. “He fought for position and he delivered the mail.”
O’Dell matched Peterson’s 15 points against the Longhorns. “I think these last two games have been the best we’ve played in a while,” Peterson said. “So it’s nice seeing how good we really can be when we play good. It gives us a lot of confidence going into the tournament.”
O’Dell is leading the Blue Devils with 12.0 points and 1.8 steals per game. He’s made 77 treys (36.3 percent). Peterson and Johnson lead the way with 83 and 77 assists, respectively. Peterson has also made a team-high 69 free throws (69 percent).