Unicoi downs 'Dogs

By Marvin Birchfield

   ERWIN--With the Hampton and Unicoi County game not being played on Friday due to the weather, it seemed as if the Bulldogs forgot to show on Saturday as they dropped a 48-31 decision to the Blue Devils.
   "We're going to be playing them for seed in the tournament so these games are big, and you want to win at home, and when you steal one on the road it helps you out," said Unicoi County coach John English.
   Hampton played probably one of its worst half of the season, producing just 10 points in the second half.
   The Bulldogs posted a 7-5 lead after the first period of play, when Adam Miller grabbed a couple of offensive boards, scoring on the putback.
   Greg Osborne nailed a three-point goal to start the second period, but Michael Price answered for the Blue Devils to keep the deficit at two.
   Hampton enjoyed a 13-5 advantage after Corey McKinney hit a three-pointer, but Unicoi came back to roll off the next nine scores to take an one-point lead with two minutes left in the half.
   A three-point shot from Mitchell Morton with eight seconds left pulled the Bulldogs to within one, but Phillip Davis responded with an eight-foot jumper at the buzzer to make it 24-21 in favor of the Blue Devils.
   "We don't have a whole lot of scorers in our half-court set, so we want to get more transition baskets, and I thought we did a good job at it -- especially in the second half," said English.
   Both teams traded three-point baskets to start the second half, with Price knocking down his second one of the night, and also Morton connecting on his second.
   It took Hampton 10 minutes later to acquire its next score, which didn't come until 5:10 left in the fourth period.
   "They seemed to go flat in the second half, and when shots are not falling it can become a struggle," said English.
   Unicoi scored 13 straight points, before Michael McCall hit two baskets back to back.
   The Blue Devils became dominate over Hampton by hitting the boards and capitalizing off the Bulldogs turnovers.
   Price led Unicoi County with 17 points on the evening, along with Brown who poured in eight on the inside.
   "One of the things we have been weak at the last couple of games is rebounding, and we've worked on it the last few days That was one of the keys to tonight's win," said English.
   Hampton 39
   Unicoi County 48
   Unicoi County girls remain undefeated in conference play, as they defeated the Lady Bulldogs in a 48-39 final.
   It was a lapse of offense from the Bulldogs in the second and third quarters, which enabled them from catching up with Blue Devils in the final period.
   "We just lost it through the second and third periods and started throwing the ball away, but when they make a mistake all we want them to do is recover from it," said Lady Bulldog coach Leslie Campbell.
   Hampton hung tough in the first quarter, as Lauren Pittman poured in seven points to keep the 'Dogs within three at the end of the period.
   Candace Shelton had three field goals for six points to lead Unicoi, as they clung to a 17-14 lead.
   A lonely bucket from Lacey Oliver in the second quarter was all the points Hampton put on the board.
   Unicoi County jumped out to a 32-16 lead at the half, as Elizabeth Weaver and Kelley Lingerfelt added the spark for the Blue Devils.
   A free-throw from Joy Gardner and basket by Pittman was the second consecutive quarter that Hampton had trouble in putting the ball through the hoop.
   "I'm tired of the excuses that we are young even though we are, but we have to get better fundamentally. We played nearly a year and we should be getting past that point," said Campbell.
   The Blue Devils continued to stretch their advantage by the end of the third period, as they enjoyed a 43-19 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
   "We had some really good spurts through the first three quarters, but we didn't come out in the final period, and I thought Hampton did a really good job in the fourth quarter," said Unicoi coach Glenn Fisher.
   Hampton came out with fire in its eyes to start the fourth, as its defensive pressure and point production increased dramatically.
   Oliver stepped up to hit two three-point goals for Hampton, and Gardner, who was held to one point through the first three quarters, finally started to get on track.
   The Bulldogs cut the deficit down to nine in the final minute, after trailing by as many as 25 points to start the period.
   "We dominated the fourth quarter, but we're already in a hole by then and can't get out," said Campbell.
   Hampton was led by Pittman and Oliver in scoring as they both tallied 11 points, while Heather Bailey and Weaver posted nine points apiece for Unicoi County.
   "They lost a lot of seniors last year, and we have more experience than them, so the tables have kind of turned now," said Fisher.