Fisherless Unicoi topples HV girls

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   ERWIN -- With Unicoi County head coach Glenn Fisher out attending to his ill mother, assistant coach Doyle Phipps guided the Lady Devils to a 43-29 win over Happy Valley at Blue Devil Gym Friday night.
   "I feel like I just got through playing," said Phipps. "You want to do the best job you can do in this situation. In the back of your mind, you think we really don't want to lose this basketball game. You put a lot of pressure on yourself. But, the girls played hard tonight."
   Evident by the final score, it was a rough shooting night for both teams. "You have nights like this," remarked Phipps. "Our girls are much better shooters than they showed tonight, but you run into games like this where two teams are struggling. It made every basket and every possession important."
   Struggling may have been a good term for Unicoi County, but Happy Valley was truly ice-cold going 1-for-20 from the floor in the first half. "At times, we did get some good inside shots," said HV head coach Ben Godsey. "We were just having problems finishing those shots. Hopefully, it will eventually come where we will step up offensively. If Kandra Roberts hadn't scored 14 of her 17 in the fourth quarter, it would look even uglier in the paper."
   Usually the staple of the Lady Warrior offense, Roberts' main contribution may have been at the defensive end, where she dove to the floor on several occasions hustling after loose balls.
   Amy Clark also provided HV with some quality minutes as the senior center finished the night as the Lady Warriors' leading rebounder grabbing five boards.
   Their efforts were not lost on their head coach. "It was a rugged, physical game," commented Godsey. "There wasn't a lot of offense, but I thought we played awful hard. I was real proud of our effort, especially on defense where we ended up with 19 steals. It was just that we didn't have much offense and this was a ragged game, up and down."
   Unicoi only led 10-8 after one quarter of play as HV closed the gap on a Kortney Goulds bucket. Brandi Morgan then converted on a free throw to pull the Lady Warriors within one.
   The Lady Devils responded by reeling off nine straight points, capped off by Kim Anders jumper in the lane. After HV scored on a pair of Brandi Dugger free throws, the Lady Warriors only trailed 19-11 at the half.
   Neither team mustered much offense in the third quarter with Unicoi County holding a 27-15 lead at the end of three. Roberts nailed a three to open the fourth, but it only served as a prelude to a Lady Devil outburst.
   Rachel Oler's trey and Candace Shelton's bucket ended a run that bumped the lead out to 20 points. Roberts scored all nine for HV in a late game response before Anders, Oler and Shelton scored to close out the win.
   "We were ahead and in a situation where they had to come to us," stated Phipps. "Sometimes, it was a little wild looking. Happy Valley was playing harder and more aggressive than the last time we played them. They made us change defenses a couple of times. I was glad when I saw Rachel Oler hit that three-pointer to give us a little room."
   Anders stoked up heat in the Devil attack with 18 points and Shelton fired in 11.
   Unicoi County continues to pace the Watauga Conference with a 5-1 record in league games and a 14-2 overall mark. The Lady Warriors drop to 1-5 in the conference and 3-11 in all games. Next up for HV is a trip to Blountville Tuesday night, where they will face off with the other league leader Sullivan Central inside the Cougar cage.