KINGSPORT — When the Unicoi County Blue Devils thought they heard a whistle in the final seconds of Friday’s crucial Three Rivers Conference boys game at Sullivan South, they stopped in their tracks.
But the Rebels played on, and they were rewarded with a 55-54 victory, putting them alone atop the conference as the regular season hits the homestretch.
Unicoi County coach John English said the referee nearest to him blew his whistle and awarded English a timeout right after Lucas Hensley hit a layup with 9.4 seconds remaining to put the Devils up 54-53.
As the Devils eased toward their bench, Christian Comsa’s quick inbound pass sailed down court to a wide-open Mickey Winkle, who caught the pass and continued to the basket for an uncontested layup to put South ahead 55-54.
The officials deliberated for a couple minutes before awarding South the basket, leaving Unicoi County down one point with 2.7 seconds left in the game. The Devils managed to get off a driving layup, but it didn’t drop.
Comsa led South with 15 points and Winkle added 11. Ethan Rice’s 15 points paced Unicoi County. Simpson added 13 and Nic Chambers scored 11.
The girls’ contest wasn’t decided without its share of controversy. The final buzzer sounded three times, with four-tenths of a second being put back on the clock twice before South finally escaped with a 54-50 win.
Brayden Hutchins led South with 17 points and Kayla Tipton chipped in with 15. Morgan Seymore added 10.
Hannah Rice scored 21 points to lead Unicoi County.For an expanded version of this article, please see Saturday's print edition or our electronic edition.