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Thompson takes over in fourth to lead Unicoi County over Happy Valley

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Feb 13, 2019 at 11:57 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Brock Thompson took over in the fourth quarter to lead Unicoi County over Happy Valley in the opening game of the District 1-AA boys’ basketball tournament.

After Noah Stevens hit a 3-point shot to give Happy Valley its first lead of the second half, Thompson scored the next eight points and 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Blue Devils to a 49-41 win Wednesday at Bayless Gym.

“There was no doubt in my mind. We came into this game expecting a win,” said Thompson, who had a game-high 20 points. “We love playing Happy Valley. It’s always a great rivalry and their student section gets us fired up. I knew my teammates were going to get me the shots and they fell for us.”

Unicoi County (8-21) advanced to play Sullivan East on Friday at 6 p.m. Sullivan South will play Sullivan Central at 7:30 p.m..

Unicoi led 17-15 at the half and the teams were tied 24-24 at the end of three quarters. Caleb Adkins gave the Blue Devils a two-point lead before Stevens knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a brief one-point advantage.

Thompson scored on the next three possessions, a contested floater followed by a pair of 3-point shots. Austin O’Dell was next highest for the Blue Devils with nine points, followed by Gavin Casey with eight.

“I’m proud of the guys for the jobs they did tonight,” Unicoi County coach Michael Smith said. “The guys were getting frustrated, but I told them that’s tournament basketball and it’s going to be low scoring. It’s just survive and advance.

“Brock has been our leading scorer all year long. Early in the game, he got hit in the head and our guys were like, ‘Watch it, Brock’s going to get mad and go off.’ That’s not in a bad way. He started turning into that in the fourth quarter. He and the rest of the guys did a great job, defensively, rebounding, everything in the fourth quarter.”

Bryce Carter, the Warriors’ 6-foot-8 post, ended his Happy Valley career with a team-best 16 points. Stevens added 10 points as the Warriors ended their season at 7-20.

“Thompson was the difference in the game. That’s what good players do, make plays when they need to,” Happy Valley coach Jeremy Maddox said. “We just didn’t answer them. We got a lot of good looks, but the shots didn’t fall.”

GIRLS

Johnson County 64, Sullivan East 60

Taylor Cox scored 21 points as the Lady Longhorns (14-15) beat the Lady Patriots (13-18).

Down by one at the end of one quarter, Johnson County pulled ahead 26-22 at halftime. The Lady ‘Horns never trailed in the second half. Emmy Miller contributed 14 points, Natalie Winters came through with 10 and Sadie Stout added eight.

“We kept our heads above water and made a shot or two more than they did,” Johnson County coach Leon Tolley said. “The good thing for us was our girls didn’t give up. I told them at halftime the thing we couldn’t do was stop playing to win and start playing not to lose.”

Hayley Grubb paced the Lady Patriots with 20 points. Riley Nelson scored 10, followed by Mattie Gouge with nine and Kylee Wolfe and Emma Aubrey with eight apiece.

Johnson County will take on Unicoi County at 6 p.m., while Elizabethton will take on Happy Valley at 7:30 p.m.

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