STRAWBERRY PLAINS — Offensive-minded Carter won the game with defense.
Unicoi County held the Hornets to their third-lowest point total of the season, but the Blue Devils couldn’t handle four quarters of Carter’s defensive pressure in a 72-57 Class AA sectional loss Tuesday night at the sold-out Hornets’ gym.
It was a season-ending loss for the Blue Devils (26-8), and it was the eighth time in 10 years they ended at this stage.
Carter (26-7) earned a berth in next week’s state tournament. But instead of heralding his players’ accomplishments for reaching the state quarterfinals, head coach Joseph Boydstone seemed more focused on things published in a newspaper — some 100 miles away — two days prior to the game.
Most disconcerting to the Hornets’ head coach was his correct age was missed by one year and his number of career coaching victories was shorted.
“For the record, I’m 58 years old and I have 419 career wins,” said Boydstone. “And for people who know what they are talking about, we do play defense.
“And these other coaches, the so-called experts, they are sitting at home.”
Boydstone was asked if he was referring to Knox Fulton coach Jody Wright, but he didn’t directly answer the question.
“You know who I’m talking about, said Boydstone.
As for Unicoi County’s coach, John English, he focused on the players from both teams.
“I’m super proud of our kids,” said English. “They tried to execute what we wanted to do. It wasn’t for lack of trying.
“A lot of it was Carter. Give them credit. Their pressure gets to you. They are very good at what they do.”
Unicoi completely controlled the pace in the early going. The Blue Devils built a 22-15 lead early in the second quarter.
Carter went on a 7-0 run to tie the game, but the Blue Devils still led 29-27 just over three minutes remaining before halftime.
That’s when the Hornets struck. They closed the half with an 11-0 run, getting a big lift from Jordan Bowden’s 3-point bomb that turned into a four-point play with the foul. It changed a one-possession game into a three-possession game.
“Bowden made some tough ones,” said English. “That four-point play was tough.
“We had Keith (Arrowood), Connor (Simpson) and Nic (Chambers) on the bench with foul trouble, and we didn’t close the first half well.”
Unicoi was still right there midway through the third quarter. Trailing 40-36, a couple of missed free throws by the Blue Devils were followed by a couple of made free throws by the Hornets.
And when Unicoi needed to stick a trey ball, it got good looks but didn’t get enough answers.
“We didn’t knock them down at the right time,” said English. “It’s a make or miss game.”
Carter closed the third quarter with a 10-4 run to take a 10-point edge into the fourth quarter. Forced to change the pace, the Blue Devils simply couldn’t gain ground.
Lucas Hensley led the Blue Devils with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Austin Green added 10 points while Chambers totaled eight points and eight rebounds.
Bowden led the Hornets with 20 points while John Woodruff finished with 16. Tucker Greene added 12.comments powered by Disqus