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Lady Rebels push winning streak to four

By BRYAN MOORE, TriCitiesSports.com • Dec 6, 2017 at 1:25 AM

KINGSPORT — The Sullivan South girls were gunning for their fourth straight victory while the Rebels boys were looking to get back in the win column when they hosted Unicoi County on Tuesday night in Three Rivers Conference basketball action.

The Lady Rebels took care of business 48-45, but the South boys got steamrolled by Trevor Hensley and the Blue Devils, 65-31.

“Four in a row and two in a row in the conference,” said a jubilant Lady Rebels coach Torey Haile.

“I’m just proud of us hanging in there. It’s our second close ballgame in a row now against really good teams.”

After the Lady Blue Devils raced to a 5-0 lead, South woke up and took charge.

Point guard and floor general Mollie Leslie made two free throws, Alex Harris canned a jumper, Leslie hit a driving layup, Meredith St. Clair got a basket, and Harris nailed another jumper and then a 3-pointer and, in the blink of an eye, the Lady Rebels led 13-5.

View the girls’ photo gallery

“I just got the ball and had to do my job,” Leslie said. “I just was hoping my team would do their job and they did their job getting open for me. We just ran our offense and it worked for us.”

“I think we were just sharing the ball really well,” Harris added. “We were just being unselfish and getting the ball to the open person.”

Unicoi County drew within 29-25 at intermission, but Nicole Troutman came up big in the third quarter when she scored six of her 10 points, and the Lady Rebels (4-5, 2-0) carried a 39-31 lead into the fourth.

Another trey from Harris and two free throws gave South a seemingly comfortable 44-36 advantage late, but Unicoi County (4-3, 1-1) came back again, pulling to within 46-43 in the final minute.

Then Carissa Comsa came up with a huge rebound for South on a missed free throw, and Troutman and Leslie converted four free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win.

Leslie paced the Lady Rebels with 16 points and Harris contributed 14, including two 3-pointers.

“We’ve just got our head in the game a lot more and we’re playing a lot harder because we’re tired of losing,” Troutman said.

Halie Padgett scored 20 points to lead the Lady Blue Devils.

In the boys’ game, South (6-5, 0-2) withstood an early barrage from the Blue Devils. Ethan Ward’s 3-pointer, driving layup and rebound and score by Chase Bowery gave the Rebels a 9-8 lead.

View the boys’ photo gallery

But the Rebels could not withstand the next deluge. Hensley drained a 3-pointer, then scored and drew a foul, and canned another trey to put the Blue Devils on top 17-9 at the end of the first. That was part of a 24-0 run.

With 2:52 left in the first half, Unicoi County (7-1, 2-0) held a commanding 32-11 advantage.

“After they went on that first big run we never responded,” said South coach Michael McMeans. “We just kind of laid down and gave in to the fact they were bigger and taller and longer and that kind of stuff.”

Hensley’s 21-point performance led the Blue Devils’ effort and came in front of several college scouts. Big man Clay Simpson added 11.

Ward and Jacob Jayne each scored seven points for the Rebels, who hope to learn some hard lessons from Tuesday night’s loss.

“It’s probably good for the juniors and sophomores and that kind of stuff to get punched in the face like that, beat around and just get beat around pretty good,” McMeans said. “Now they’ve seen that and now they know at what level you have to be every single night to compete in this conference.”

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