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Cloudland girls, boys emerge victorious at Unicoi County

BY NIC MILLER
STAR CORRESPONDENT

ERWIN – While there are still a few teams left in the state of Tennessee that will be competing for a championship in football this weekend, the majority of teams in the area have turned their focus to the hardwood.

And on Tuesday it was the Cloudland Highlanders that would make the trip to Unicoi County to take on the Blue Devils in both boys and girls basketball contests.

Per usual it was the girls’ game that would get underway first, and after coming out slow to start the contest the Lady Highlanders would convert two three-point plays to give themselves a six-point lead after one, 13-7.

The second quarter was tightly contested with both teams scoring right after the other, but thanks to their big first-quarter advantage, it was the Lady Highlanders who would go into the locker room with the advantage at the half, 24-14.

In the third quarter, the Lady Highlanders came out of the break and opened the flood gates as Cloudland was able to widen their margin going into the final quarter, 38-21.

The Lady Highlanders would continue to roll in the late stages of the game and despite the Lady Devils comeback attempt, it was Cloudland who would pick up the win in the first contest, 45-41

In the win for the Lady Highlanders, it was Gracie Freeman who led the way with 13 points followed by Jasmine Birchfield with 9 points and both Heaven Caraway and Mandy Benfield with 8 points.

After a short intermission, it was time for the boys’ teams to square off, and just as it was in the first contest the Highlanders came out on fire as they took the early advantage after one quarter, 14-10.

In the second stanza, it was the Blue Devils who would come back from their deficit and would go on a 12-1 run just before halftime as they would go into the break with a 32-27 lead over the visitors.

The third quarter was a back and forth contest, with each team answering the other’s score. But due to the Devils’ lead from the first half, the ‘Landers deficit stayed relatively the same going into the fourth, 49-43.

In the final quarter of play, the Highlanders would come surging back in the final couple of minutes with amazing plays like a clutch pair of free throws from Victor Hicks with 1:15 to go to give the visitors a slim one-point lead.

This would be followed by another pair of foul shots and then the dagger by Bentley Gilbert as Cloudland would steal this one from the home team, 66-63.

Emerging victorious, the Highlanders were led in scoring by Gilbert with 22 points, Caleb Sluder and Hicks both with 12, and Elijah Blair dropping 10 points.