JV Cyclones eliminated by hot shooting Devils

By Ivan Sanders

   It was amazing the Church Hill Volunteer Fire Department hadn't been called to Volunteer High Gym on Wednesday afternoon as the Unicoi County junior varsity Blue Devils were scorching the place.
   Elizabethton's junior varsity run to the district championship game was thwarted by a hot Unicoi County squad 63-42 at Volunteer High School in Church Hill.
   The Cyclones found themselves in a hole early on the superb shooting of the Blue Devils who were able to build a 14-7 lead after one period of play.
   "The main difference in the game was that they came ready to play and we didn't," said Cyclone head coach Richard VanHuss. "Unicoi absolutely shot the lights out in the first half."
   The Blue Devils didn't let up as they continued to throw a one-two punch at the Cyclones from the paint as well as behind the three-point arc.
   By halftime, the Cyclones found themselves looking at a 32-18 deficit thanks to the hot shooting of Jonathan Grindstaff and Paul Price.
   Said VanHuss: "We played so well last night at Tennessee High against a team that was 18-6, with three loses to Dobyns-Bennett. I don't really know what happened out there. We definitely lost our focus."
   The Cyclones came out of the locker room and outscored the Blue Devils 15-11 in the third quarter to whittle the lead to 10 points behind Adam Turley and Michael Porter.
   The Cyclones weren't able to break the double digit deficit. Every time EHS made any type of run against Unicoi Co., the Blue Devils answered back with another small run.
   "When we don't shoot well early, our guys seem to lose their confidence," stated VanHuss. "We were only getting one shot for most of the game, so it's was important that we hit those shots."
   The Blue Devils threw it into high gear in the final stanza as they outscored the Cyclones 20-11. The difference could have been greater if J.R. McFarland hadn't nailed a trey for the Cyclones as the final buzzer sounded.
   A big difference in the contest was the ability of the Blue Devils to hit their free throws. Unicoi Co. stepped to the line 21 times and were able to convert on 19 points from the charity stripe.
   The Cyclones on the other hand went to the line 14 times and managed to only hit seven free throws.
   "If we could have got our kids in a groove, we would have been OK," said VanHuss. "That just didn't happen."
   Jonathan Grindstaff led the way for the Blue Devils as he blistered the cotton for a game-high 18 points. Paul Price contributed in a big way hitting three treys and collecting 15 on the afternoon.
   The Cyclones were paced by Turley's 14 points followed closely by Porter with 10. Derek Wilson added six points to the Cyclones column as well.
   Unicoi Co. will advance to the championship game against the winner of the Sullivan Central--Volunteer contest that followed the opening contest.
   The Cyclone JV will still see another day of basketball as they travel to Kingsport to face Dobyns-Bennett on Thursday. The game will follow the EHS JV girls contest with D-B at 5:30 PM.