Warriors scare the devil out of Unicoi Co. in thriller as Blue Devils win 62-60
Published 12:25 am Saturday, February 20, 2016
KINGSPORT— Happy Valley has long been notorious for pulling out shockers in opening rounds of the district boys’ tournament and Friday it just about happened again.
The Unicoi Co. Blue Devils couldn’t take a sigh of relief until the final horn sounded as the Warriors battled valiantly to the end before dropping a heartbreaking 62-60 loss that brought a close to the Warriors season while the Blue Devils advance to meet Elizabethton today.
In the early going it looked like the Blue Devils (18-11) might pull away from the Warriors (13-13) as they built a 13-point halftime lead, 39-26.
“We’ve done that a little bit this year as far as getting down early, but we battled and came back and took the lead right there,” said Warrior head coach Chuck Babb. “We got a good look at the basket there at the end.
But just like in most games in the latter part of the season, the Warriors just wouldn’t go away as they kept chopping away at the lead.
The Warriors came out of the break and outhustled the Blue Devils to cut deep into the lead outscoring Unicoi Co. 19-10 in the period to make it a 49-45 game heading into the final period of regulation.
Austin Hicks and Tyler Torbett had five points each in the frame to spur the comeback. Senior Josh Hammonds also chipped in four to set up an energetic final eight minutes of play.
Behind Hicks seven fourth-quarter points, the Warriors caught and took a two-point lead with just over two minutes left to play.
Both teams would take turns with the lead before the Warriors found themselves with the basketball and trailing 61-60 with 18 seconds left to play.
Dillon Barlow found an opening and took it to the hole with four seconds left but the shot was errant and Unicoi Co. was immediately fouled.
Dalton Spears made 1-of-2 foul shots missing the second one intentionally with the Warriors getting the basketball.
The pass was stolen and the Blue Devil defender was fouled once again and missed both foul shots. Babb took a timeout immediately to set up one last desperation play.
On the inbound pass, Hammonds pass was knocked away by a Blue Devil but the referee ruled that Hammonds had touched the ball giving it back to Unicoi Co. who inbounded the ball to seal the win.
“My kids told me they hit the ball out of bounds and it sure looked like it to me. I don’t know how the ball changes angles like that without somebody touching it especially when you throw it straight in and it goes sideways and hits the backboard,” added Babb. “They had a good look at it I guess. We would have at least had another shot at it. We were going to make a desperation heave.”
Hicks led all scorers with 18 points with Sam Blevins coming off the Warrior bench to pour in 11 points. Hammonds finished his senior career with eight points in the game while Torbett collected seven before fouling out. Nathan Kyte had five points.
The Warriors desperately missed the services of Brayden Sams who was battling a stomach ailment forcing the sophomore to sit for more than two and a half quarters.
Babb summed up his thoughts on his group of seniors.
“The kids worked hard and they battled and I’m proud of them,” stated Babb. “This is the first group of seniors that we have had as freshmen. You can really see growth.
“On the bus ride over I was just looking at them and looked at how they have grown both intellectually and physically and some of them spiritually,” added Babb. “We came up a play short.”
Trevor Hensley led the Blue Devils with 15 points. Jacob Smith was a thorn in the Warriors flesh in the first half scoring nine of his 14 points in the first 16 minutes.
Dalton Spears and Hunter Hensley finished with 12 and 11 respectively.
Unicoi Co. advances to play Elizabethton today at 4:30 pm.
2016 DISTRICT 1-AA BOYS’ BASKETBALL
Unicoi Co., 62-60
Happy Valley (60)
Chris Young 5, Josh Hammonds 8, Nathan Kyte 5, Tyler Torbett 7, Dillon Barlow 2, Austin Hicks 18, Sam Blevins 11, Brayden Sams 4.
Unicoi Co. (62)
Hunter Hensley 11, Dalton Spears 12, Dylan Putman 6, Eli Gillis 2, Trevor Hensley 15, Chase McNabb 2, Jacob Smith 14.
3-PT GOALS: Happy Valley 5 (Tyler Torbett, Sam Blevins 2, Brayden Sams, Nathan Kyte). Unicoi Co. 6 (Dalton Spears 2, Hunter Hensley 2, Trevor Hensley 2).