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Conn job: Grainger forces Unicoi County into runner-up finish

Douglas Fritz • Updated Mar 2, 2018 at 3:09 AM

AFTON — Unicoi County never saw the knockout punch.

Dalton Conn scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the first 12 minutes of the game, and Grainger used the individual outburst as part of a dominating team effort to win the Region 1-AA basketball championship. The 71-55 decision came Thursday night at Chuckey-Doak’s gym.

It was the third straight year Grainger has beaten Unicoi in the region tournament.

Grainger improved to 24-8 and earned home-court advantage for Monday’s sectional round against Alcoa. The Tornadoes lost 53-44 to Knox Fulton in the Region 2-AA final.

Unicoi County (22-12) will travel to take on Fulton on Monday at 7 p.m. with a state tournament berth on the line.

CONN JOB

It was an exhilarating start by Conn. At times it was like there was two of him on the offensive end of the court. By the end of his impressive stretch, Grainger led 30-15.

“If you play good defense, you get good offense,” said Conn, who finished with 32 points and nine rebounds. “And (my teammates) play good defense. And they draw guys, and it gets me open.”

Conn not only started fast, he finished strong. He scored his final 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“I thought Dalton played very well tonight,” said Unicoi head coach Michael Smith. “He’s a good player and a great athlete. We just didn’t have answer.”

GRIZZLIES PRIDE

Chase Muncy also had a big night, finishing with a paint-infused double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Marquice Fifield roamed the perimeter and totaled 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

HENSLEY SHINES

It was quite an effort for Unicoi County’s Trevor Hensley. He finished with 26 points and four assists. The Blue Devils were still within shouting distance at 51-39 going into the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t match Grainger’s constant offensive assault.

“Trevor was going after it and doing a great job,” said Smith. “How much more can you really do? Especially with everybody knowing he’s our best player, and him playing with those guys for two years in the summer.”

Part of the problem for the Blue Devils was foul trouble for Troy Podvin. His minutes were limited, and he finished with five points and eight rebounds.

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