'Landers knock off Blue Devils

By Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent

   Cloudland started hot and stayed that way, especially from beyond the arc, where it hung nine treys on the visiting Unicoi County Blue Devils in a 64-52 victory at Sonny Smith Gymnasium.
   The Highlanders built an eight-point, 20-12 lead after one quarter, then outscored he Blue Devils by a 14-3 margin until a steal and layup by Unicoi at the two-second mark gave the Blue Devils five for the quarter.
   Still Cloudland went to the locker room with double Unicoi's point outpoint at 34-17.
   Coach Ned Smith was pleased with his team's performance, especially since it happened only three days removed from the big conference win against Unaka last Tuesday.
   "No letdown here -- we're glad about that. We hit from outside early," said Coach Smith. We had three different players hit threes in the first quarter, plus our inside game was clicking as well."
   "Mark (Byrd, four points) always does a good job of getting the ball upcourt fast, and that sometimes allows us to create a matchup advantage either inside or out."
   Byrd praised his teammates saying, "It was nice to see Jake (Hughes, four three pointers for 12 total points) have such a good shooting game. Cody (Jones, three treys, 14 total points) and Craig (Cooke, two threes, eight points), are almost always reliable from outside, so when Hughes gets hot, we become more multi-dimensional.
   "Plus, we were good on defense. I'm just glad to go out undefeated at home this season."
   For Unicoi, Jonathan Grindstaff was very effective, especially against the taller Robbie Tolley, scoring 23 points for the Blue Devils. Conversely, Tolley scored 19 points to lead the Highlanders.
   Aaron Stocton finished his Highlander home career with a decent effort offensively. with four points, six rebounds and two steals.
   "Well, I'm so proud of what we've accomplished here, not just this season, but during the whole time we've been here. I think we still have some victories left in us, but it's nice to win all of them in front of the home folks," Stocton said, "especially since my grandmother was here tonight."
   Unicoi's Ryan Corn scored nine for Unicoi, followed by Colton White with six, Thomas Evely with five and Ike Weaver with four points. Derek Hess and Drew Anders each hit two free throws and Hunter Sparks scored one.
   For the Highlanders, Jon Pritchard had four points and spelled relief for Tolley and Stocton throughout the contest.