Unicoi Co. gets past Hampton

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Hampton Lady Bulldog offense didn't show up Tuesday night and neither did that of the Unicoi County Lady Devils.
   Both teams brought their defense, but it was Unicoi County's pressure and rebounding that paid off.
   In a low-scoring affair that barely saw one team break double digits after the first half, the Lady Devils made more shots count in the fourth quarter and came away with a 37-26 win at VanHuss-White Gymnasium.
   "I thought it was a good defensive effort by both teams as well," said Unicoi County coach Glenn Fisher. "It was one of those games in the first half where it was shaky for both teams. I think a lot of that was the good defense from both teams."
   In the boys game, the Hampton Bulldogs saw a lead collapse in the fourth quarter as Jonathan Grindstaff made two big free throws to give Unicoi a one-point 59-58 win.
   Unicoi led 11-8 at the end of the first half against Hampton in the earlier girls game and got solid offense from Amber Kerns and Hali Sparks to ignite their win.
   But it was a crucial steal from Meghan Headley in the fourth quarter when Hampton was drawing close, followed by two Lady 'Dog turnovers that made the difference.
   "We had a couple of steals and they had a turnover or two that was probably the difference in the game," Fisher said. "In the first half, you go back late and Laci Hensley had two big buckets when we were really struggling.
   "I thought that was really critical for us," he said. "We've been struggling the last two or three games and I think we beat a really good team tonight."
   A big problem for Hampton was defensive rebounds, as the Lady Devils made several shots count inside late.
   "At the beginning, we played good defense," said Hampton coach Leslie Campbell. "On offense, we were too impatient, but we were keeping them from scoring. In the second half, the only thing I can say is defensive rebounds killed us again."
   "They lost their cool there for a minute and we couldn't get rebounds off of free throws," she said. "That beat us and that's going to beat us down the road from here on out."
   Hampton led by one in the second quarter and sliced Unicoi's lead to two in the third.
   It was as close as they would get.
   Joy Gardner led Hampton with 10 points, while Lauren Pitman contributed nine off of a pair of treys.
   Kerns also knocked down a pair from beyond the arch to contribute 11 for the Lady Devils. Sparks led all scores with 13.
   Unicoi County 59
   Hampton 58
   The Hampton Bulldogs held a steady lead early and fought through a series of miscues to recover it in the second half.
   Up by four with under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Ryan Corn hit one of his six treys to close the gap for the Devils.
   A one-of-two from the charity stripe by Lucas Honeycutt gave Unicoi County the ball with 20 seconds left. Grindstaff hit two free throws to put the Devils up by one with :10 seconds to go after a timeout.
   Hampton had one final shot with Adam Miller missing a fadeaway to seal the win for the Devils.
   Hampton led by three at the end of a heavily contested first quarter which saw Miller and Corn trade three three-point plays. Trivett had seven points in the stanza to give the Dogs an edge.
   Unicoi battled back to take a 31-29 lead at the end of the first half after Matt White scored 11 of his 20 points in the second quarter.
   Jordan Honeycutt and Travis Smith pushed the Bulldogs back out to the lead after a defensive third quarter that saw many different players contribute for Hampton.
   Shane Campbell had a big nine-point fourth quarter to retain Hampton's lead, but it wouldn't be enough.
   Campbell had 15 points for Hampton, while Miller had three treys in his team-high 16 points. Trivett added nine for the Dogs.
   Corn also led the Devils with 20.