ERWIN — In a battle of two teams desperately needing a win, Unicoi County’s girls were more desperate.
The Lady Blue Devils outplayed Sullivan South in the second half, and earned a 56-42 win in a Three Rivers Conference game Saturday night at the Devils’ gym.
Unicoi improved to 5-3 in league play and 11-11 overall while the Lady Rebels lost for the eighth straight game and slipped to 4-3, 10-10.
There were several players who came up big for Unicoi. At the head of the list were Hannah Rice and Chelsey Harness.
Rice totaled 20 points while Harness had 15 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Coming off an ACL injury this summer, Harness appears to be getting back in the groove.
“I feel a lot better,” said Harness. “I’m more into the game, faster, and more mobile.”
Destinie Hayes was also a big factor for Unicoi. She missed a lot of first-half action with foul trouble, but absolutely dominated the glass in the second half. She totaled 14 second-half rebounds to finish the game with 19.
The Lady Blue Devils took control of the game midway through the third quarter with a 10-0 run that was highlighted by two 3-pointers from Rice. South answered with a 7-0 spurt to tie the game at 37-37 with 7:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Once again, Unicoi pulled away. This time it was a pair of 3-point daggers from Haley Webb, and Unicoi led 45-37. Webb finished with 10 points in the game.
Unicoi got a lot of open looks, missing several of them in the first half. But the Blue Devils kept firing and started hitting in the second half.
“Sometimes our shooting confidence goes with the rest of the game,” said Unicoi head coach Kerri King. “We know we can knock down shots if we handle pressure.”
South again battled back, and Morgan Seymore’s shot in the lane made it 47-42 with 3:23 to go.
This time, Hayes made a bucket and Unicoi clinched the win from the free throw line. Down the stretch, Rice was 5 of 6 from the line.
It was pretty much Harness versus Tipton in the first quarter. Harness had the first seven points for the Lady Blue Devils while Tipton had all 10 of her team’s first-quarter points.
Tipton kept battling and helped South stay close, and the teams went to halftime with a 25-25 tie.
Never letting up, Tipton finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Teammate Abby Conkin added 10 points.