Unicoi tops Lady Highlanders

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

A battle throughout, Tuesday’s matchup between Cloudland and Unicoi came down to a fourth-quarter showdown.

The Lady Blue Devils took advantage of consistent free throw shooting in fourth to hold on for a 57-53 nonconference win in Roan Mountain.

The loss moved the Lady Highlanders to 10-3 on the season.

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“We are playing hard right now,” said Lunsford. “They are very young. We have to learn a little bit better how to finish games. I think we will. We just have to play a little bit harder and make smarter plays.”

First Quarter

The Lady Blue Devils conducted a 12-2 run to move ahead 15-5 with 30 seconds left in the quarter. The run was sparked by Unicoi’s Halie Padgett who collected three points off an and-1 play, giving the Lady Blue Devils a 5-3 edge early in the first. With 13 second left on the clock, Lady Highlanders Heaven Caraway knocked down a 3-pointer, before Unicoi’s Chloe Powers connected on a bucket at the buzzer to make it 17-8 heading into the second quarter.

In the first, Cloudland’s Trinity Vines posted five points for the Lady Highlanders.

Second Quarter

Lady Highlanders Stacia Wilson opened the second period with a lay up off an assist from Vines to make it a 7-point contest. Cloudland would keep that momentum rolling with an 11-1 run to tie the game up at 21-21 with 1:37 left in the half. Down the stretch, Caraway made good on two free throws before Vines popped a 3-pointer to push the Lady ’Landers ahead 26-23 at the break.

“Did a good job of holding the ball for the last shot,” said Lunsford about Vines’ 3-pointer in the second quarter. “She took it a little quicker than I would’ve like, but she was wide open.”

The second quarter saw Vines put up six for the Lady Highlanders, while Wilson posted five points. Lady Highlanders Kenzie Birchfield had a 3-pointer in the second as Caraway and Cloudland’s Megan Lunsford both had two points in the period.”

Third Quarter

With Cloudland leading 28-24, Lady Blue Devils Powers made three straight 3-pointers to move Unicoi ahead 30-28 with 5:08 left in the third. The Lady Highlanders, however, went on an 8-1 run as Lunsford found the goal for six-straight points to push the Lady ’Landers up 36-34. In the final minute of the third period, Cloudland outpaced Unicoi 4-2 as Vines and Lunsford each posted a bucket a piece to give Cloudland a 40-37 lead after four.

Fourth Quarter

The Lady Blue Devils took a 50-44 lead with five minutes left to play after a 13-4 run. At the four-minute mark, Lunsford knocked down a 3-pointer to knot things up at 50-50. Unicoi worked its way out to a 55-51 lead with 16 second left to play before fending the Lady Highlanders off for a nonconference win.

For Unicoi, Padgett went 8-of-10 from the foul line in the fourth to help the Lady Devils’ cause.

“We fouled her too much,” said Lunsford. “We put her on the line way too many times. We can’t give her that many foul shots. That was the difference in the game. They took the lead on us without having to hit a shot besides a free throw, and its called a free throw for a reason.”

Cloudland’s Vines and Lunsford both scored in the double-digits. Vines finished the contest with 17 while Lunsford tacked on 12. Lunsford and Vines both also finished the game with six assists a piece.

“That is what I like to see, when we have a lot of assists,” said Lunsford.

Wilson finished the game with eight.

Unicoi’s Padgett finished with a game-high 18 points.