Unicoi County got off to a rough start to the season and a rough start in its home game against Sullivan Central on Tuesday night, but the Blue Devils sealed the Three Rivers Conference boys basketball title with a 60-45 win.
“This was one of our goals to start the season was to be the league champs,” Unicoi County coach Michael Smith said. “We wanted to go into tournament time on a good note. We’ve been struggling with our starts to games, but we’ve stuck with it and finished up strong. That will be a good boost for us going into the tournament with two games left on the schedule for us.”
Trevor Hensley had 22 points to lead Unicoi and Brock Thompson had 12.
Jordan Self led all scorers with 24 points for the Cougars.
The shots were not falling early for the Blue Devils, who fell behind late in the first quarter, but they finally took the lead with three seconds left in the first half on a Brett Strother layup.
Hensley hit 8 of 10 shots from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal it for the Devils.
Central could have clinched the Three River Conference title with a win, but the Lady Blue Devils shut the door on the Lady Cougars, 70-64.
Kaitlin Bailey had a huge night with 25 points for Unicoi. The Lady Blue Devils also had good contributions from Chloe Powers with 16, Kaylee Hendrickson with 15 and Haile Padgett with 12.
Peyton Sams had 22 to lead Central and Abbey Crawford had 15.
“This win means a lot for us, but it was mostly a pride thing,” Lady Blue Devils coach Kerri King said. “We didn’t play very well when we went to Central and I was glad we came out and played well this evening. It helps us out in the conference, but we still have to wait on a few teams to play out the rest of their games.”
Unicoi gained a game in the wild conference race and Sullivan Central will need to win its last conference game to clinch the title outright.