Blue Devils advance to Region 1-AA final, secure substate bid

February 26, 2014 by

 

 

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(Ethan Rice puts a up floater among a host of Blue Devils and Longhorns. Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell) 

With some run-and-gun, it’s back to familiar territory for the Unicoi County High School Blue Devils.
Led behind a career high night from Keith Arrowood (25 points, 10 rebounds), UCHS defeated Johnson County, 72-50, in the Region 1-AA semifinals held at Hal Henard Gym on Tuesday night.
The Blue Devils (26-6) move on to the Region 1-AA championship game on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. against Greeneville with a region title on the line.
“It says a lot about the character of our guys,” UCHS head coach John English said. “To go from getting put out in district to have ourselves in a position to go to state is big for the team.”
After a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Longhorns (16-13) capped off the final four minutes in the half with a 13-4 run.
It was an adjustment on defense, according to Arrowood, that helped stymie any chances of a Longhorn rally in the second half.
“Keith went 25 and 10 for us tonight but the biggest thing was his play on Chase Phillips,” English said.
Phillips ended the first half with nine points and the Blue Devils were able to limited the ‘Horn to just three in the second half.
“We knew we had to keep him from rebounding,” Arrowood said. “We knew if they needed a bucket, they would go to him or (Brian) Dempsey so we went to a box one and played a lot better on defense.”
Johnson County opened up the third on a 4-1 run and cut the lead to one with 6:44 to go, 34-33.
Not to be outdone, UCHS rattled off a 15-3 run to end the quarter with a 49-36.
“We wanted to run,” English said. “And we wanted to stay aggressive.”
The aggressive play continued with UCHS outscoring the Longhorns 24-14 in the fourth to keep their season alive.”
Lucas Hensley (14 points) and Ethan Rice (13 points, seven assists) went into double figures.
“It’s big having that type of scoring,” Hensley, who added a pair of threes in the first quarter, said. “It helps free up our posts and we’d love to do that every night.
“We played tense the first two quarters but we were able to play our ball in the second half.”
Thomas Tipton and Connor Simpson added six points for UCHS while Nic Chambers and Zach Thelen rounded out the scoring with four apiece.
As far as the rest of the postseason goes, it’s all about playing traditional Blue Devil basketball, according to Arrowood.
“We’ve just got to play calm and collective,” Arrowood said. “Limit our turnovers and play good defense.”
Johnson County was led by Brian Dempsey with 23 points. Phillips added 12.
The task is tall ahead with Greeneville coming off a thrilling 53-50 win over Elizabethton in the other semifinal contest.
“You’d like to have a home substate game,” English said. “But we know we have a tall task ahead. We’re going to have our hands full.”
Tuesday’s victory also guaranteed UCHS a substate game for Monday.
In the Region 2-AA championship, CAK will face Carter/Alcoa winner at Alcoa on Thursday at 7 p.m. The winner of UCHS/Greeneville will host the runner-up from Region 2, Region 1′s second-place team will travel.
For updates on Region 2 finals and coverage of the postseason, be sure to follow The Erwin Record Sports on Facebook at on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER.

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Unicoi County 72

Johnson County

UC 16  17  16  23

JC  12  16    7  14

UC: Arrowood 25, Hensley 14, Rice 13, Simpson 6, Tipton 6, Chambers 4, Thelen 4, Green 0. JC: Dempsey 23, Phillips 12, Timbs 7, Speed 5, Bailie 2, Vannoy 1, South 0.

3-point goals: UC: 5 (Hensley 2, Tipton 2, Rice) JC: 3 (Phillips 2, Timbs 1)

All that and then some – ‘In The Bleachers’

February 10, 2014 by

 

 

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It wasn’t a bad way to cap off the regular season.

Connor Simpson was up to his old tricks again, hitting his second-game-winner this season in the Blue Devils 52-51 win over the Class A powerhouse, Hampton High, on Saturday. The Lady Devils hit a bit of a snag against the Lady Bulldogs, 42-37, but will be coasting into the tournament on a high note by securing a fourth seed by defeating Johnson County – 68-38 on Saturday.

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Austin Green had the hot-hand Saturday with 14 points (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell) 

The Blue Devils enter the tournament in a 360 from last year by securing the first seed in the tournament and an automatic bid to the regional tournament. UCHS will have Nic Chambers back in the post after he missed Saturday with a sprained ankle. The Blue Devils guards; Ethan Rice, Keith Arrowood, Austin Green, Zach Thelen, Lucas Hensley, Thomas Tipton… (there’s a few) have hit a stride heading into tournament time – by grinding out wins in a close encounters.

Not a romantic novel. But the past two games have been close for UCHS. And those wins only help when entering a tournament field where it seems anyone could beat anybody on a given night. With the momentum on their side, UCHS can look to make some noise.

 

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A team full of shooters but Jr. post Destinie Hayes adds another element to the squad. (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell) 

The Lady Devils enter postseason time in fourth and are working to adjustment after Sr. Whitley True went down due to back injury to end her season. The Lady Devils fell shorts against Hampton but got the motivation they needed on Friday by netting five girls in double figures.

When the team is on, they’re on, and will be a tough outing for just about anyone.

It’s all about playing up to their potential for the Lady Devils. Sitting at 12-15, the team were a few points shy during the regular season over turning that into a .500 record. You can’t write off UCHS. Elizabethton is the favorite but don’t be surprised in the least bit if you see the Lady Devils, guided by head coach Kerri King, make a sizable postseason run.

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District 1-AA Tournament at Happy Valley High School

Boys Schedule

2) Sullivan South vs 7) Happy Valley – Wednesday, Feb. 12 – 8 p.m.

3) Elizabethton vs 6) Sullivan North  - Friday, Feb. 14 – 6:30 p.m.

4) Johnson County vs 5) Sullivan East – Friday, Feb. 14 – 8 p.m.

Sullivan South/Happy Winner vs Elizabethton/Sullivan North Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 5:30 p.m.

Unicoi County vs Johnson County/Sullivan East Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 8:30 p.m.

Third place consolation game – Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 6:30 p.m. 

Championship game – Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 8 p.m.

Girls Schedule

2) Sullivan East vs 7) Sullivan North – Wednesday, Feb. 12 – 6:30 p.m.

3) Sullivan South vs 6) Johnson County – Thursday, Feb. 13 – 6:30 p.m.

4) Unicoi County vs 5) Happy Valley – Thursday, Feb. 13 – 8 p.m.

Sullivan East/Sullivan North Winner vs Sullivan South/Johnson County Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 4 p.m.

Elizabethton vs Unicoi County/Happy Valley Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 7 p.m.

Third place consolation game – Monday, Feb. 17 – 6:30 p.m.

Championship game – Monday, Feb. 17 – 8 p.m.

Unicoi County Blue Devils and Elizabethton Lady Cyclones have both received automatic bids to the upcoming regional tournament. The winners of the play-in games will all advance to the regional tournament.

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When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort–it is ready to climb.— Pat Riley

 

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Unicoi County’s got their Bob. Now it’s time to see if he can be a builder.

The Blue Devils have been conducting offseason weightlifting activities since last week under new head coach Robert McElwee. The numbers look to be promising, with currently over 40 student-athletes preparing for the Fall. Not including athletes in basketball, of course. The UCHS team will be working on fundraisers, along with the UCHS Gridiron Club, to raise money for the program. Renovations to the weight room, field, etc. Look for future stories on tap in the coming week’s on the progression of the UCHS football program. Don’t blink. Before you know it, we’ll be back under the Friday night lights at Gentry Stadium.

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Today’s marks the beginning of official practices for spring athletics across the state, according to the TSSAA.

*Cough, Cough* Official.

Teams have been hard at working preparing for what’s looking to be a competitive league in Class AA. Unicoi County is looked as probable favorites in baseball and unless you just hold a personal vendetta from your car getting smacked by a UCHS Lady Devil home run – the Lady Devils look to be the favorite to make it back to Murfreesboro. And you can’t forget about track and tennis. It seemed like just yesterday, we were presenting The Erwin Record’s award-winning sports preview (shameless plug out of the wayfor basketball and now, in a few weeks, it’ll be time to bring out the heavy hitters in Spring. Best of luck to all those preparing for your respective seasons, you’re practicing for the sun and you’ll be out in what seems like a Narnia-Winter wonderland. May the odds be in your favor. 

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Want to feed the mailbag? Any questions, comments, or whatever you may want to send over my way can be emailed to: ccarden@erwinrecord.net. I’ll reply back to some questions on here in future posts. Preferably, I’d like to get the digits of Jennifer Lawrence after seeing American Hustle, but I’ll take what I can get.

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She’s a year older than me. A man can dream.

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The 2/12 issue of The Erwin Record will brought to you by the letter ‘E’ – for Everything. A look back at Unicoi County High School hoops, the Unicoi County Middle School’s run through the sectional tournament, photos, ETSU football… and honestly just a bunch of other material that I can remember off the top of my head. It’s busy behind the computer this time of the year.

And to think – high school spring sports are on the way. Softball, baseball, track, tennis.

Anyone perfect cloning yet? I may need your digits come March. Either that or a number to a nice beach house in Florida after the Spring Fling.

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We’re not only a Wednesday paper. Feel free to find us online daily, you’ll probably see me updating something. Actually you will, I think I have OCD.

Facebook: The Erwin Record Sports

Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER 

Instagram: curtcarden

Pheed: curtiscarden

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Feel free to check back at some of the earlier posts on In Overtime. 

And since it’s a running theme – here’s some Breathe Carolina for all you hoppin’ party people.

The Journey, Press Play

February 6, 2014 by

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Often times, I ask myself… “Why?”

Why am I here? Why am I in Tennessee? Why was a born with the last name Carden? Why can’t I have a fully manageable beard.

Press Play:

All jokes aside. For the people who follow this blog, you all know that it’s kept updated from time to time on Unicoi County athletics, and other sports, in an attempt to keep the public up to date.

It’s something I find solace in. My comfort zone. There’s nothing more peaceful with a bit of music going sitting in front of a laptop, or notepad, and just letting your mind run free on finding the right phrase and word play to help weave some information into an entertaining, yet knowledgeable stance for people to view. People get into the ‘profession’ of journalism for many reasons.

Knowledge. Fame. Something to kill time. And for the others — it’s an avenue to bring your words to life.

It’s a way to document events, activities… your life.

I remember back in 2006, during my freshmen year at Hampton High School, I finished an assignment in my English class. At this time — it was football season. I was in a classroom with 30-plus kids. It was considered the ‘Honors’ English class, which I still find funny to this day. Out of the amount of kids in the room — there were about four guys who were on the football team, me being one.

After assignments, we had time to talk. Cut up, talk about what’s going on after school, after practice – blah, blah, blah.

I had the sudden urge to work on a book. Not sure why, and I honestly believe I threw the paper away once I finished, but I went to work. It was the story of a solider, on a ship I believe, setting sail to an unnamed destination – writing a letter to his unborn son about events that occurred in the past. 

That was the best moment I can relive from that class. It was probably the most nerdy, dorky, odd thing I’ve done in high school. But I remember breaking a smile when I went to work on it. Some people have it, some people don’t. I was lucky to be one that enjoy storytelling. And my memory was of the teacher — an assistant football coach Scott Bunton — taking the time to read it and said it was good. Probably just to send me back to my seat, almost positive it was, but it helped breathe life into a love writing.

Fast forward – My senior year. At this point, a whirlwind occurred. My parents were separated. It was my Mother and I, and at the end of my junior year, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Football was an after thought. I, for some random reason, wanted to quit to focus on writing. The end of my sophomore year — I was in a four-wheeler wreck that cracked part of spinal cord — so needless to say, one way or another, I took it from the powers to be that maybe I shouldn’t play. I was asked at the end of my junior year to play my senior year by then head coach Michael Lunsford. I revisit that moment in life from time to time. I wanted to play but with everything happening at that time and from the past I said no, still some shreds of regret linger to this day.

Ultimately it was a blessing in disguise. My junior English teach Rebekah Harris talked me into joining the Journalism class for my last year in school. I knew what a basketball and football were, so I was tossed into being the sports writer of the paper.

I was able to keep a level balance. Cover events, take care of my mother, do my work, participate in events. I kept busy. It’s another thing I love, as long as something is going on, I’m happy — so I didn’t mind it at all.

Press fast forward a bit more. Late October, 2010.

I was in my freshman year at ETSU. I had sent emails to local papers offering to work as an intern, cover some games — never received a reply. Which I expected.

Then something unexpected came. My grandfather, Raymond Carden, was getting sick. The man who was that positive male influence in my life. Taught me everything I needed to know — and from time to time threaten to beat me with a switch if I ever missed Sunday School at Union Baptist Church.

I turned 20 on Oct. 29th — Oct. 31st would be my last conversation with my Pap-paw. Up until that point, he was in bad shape with memory loss, but I remember that night in the ICU room when he and I just talked, like nothing was wrong.

How’s school going? You OK? Know what you want to do? The last thing I remember him saying to me was him being proud of me being the only guy from our family to go to college.

I shrugged it off, thinking things would be OK. Told him I loved him, shook his hand and left.

The next day, he passed away.

I lost it. Sitting at Sycamore Shoals I tried my best to keep a straight face. Be there for the family. The next day was the funeral. Kept up the front then went to my car at Tetrick Funeral home and cried.

I didn’t know what to do. The one person who openly supported me. The man I that thought I could do no wrong was gone. The glue of our family… What was I suppose to do?

Depression isn’t a fun thing. And it’s a serious issue. I didn’t miss school, kept doing my homework and it the back of my mind — I couldn’t quit replaying those final moments in Elizabethton on Oct. 31st.

Then I got out my laptop, and started typing. I let my mind run free — and I was able to smile.

Events continued to play our then I received a Facebook message from Mrs. Harris asking me if I’d be interested in covering sports for ‘The Erwin Record’. I honestly didn’t even know what that was at the time. But of course, I jumped on the offer.

Then publisher — Mark Steven — gave me a call during a Thanksgiving dinner at Union Baptist Church. I missed the call, called him back in the parking lot. We chatted, discussed the ‘Bulldog Bark’ (the Hampton High school paper) then asked me to come in for an interview.

Disc 2:

I was scared as could be during the interview process. Mr. Stevens was nice as he could be, I about freaked out. Talks of covering events, interviewing coaches — I thought I was in a dream. I learned of the previous writer — Kevin Lewis. Checking back through his logs, hearing his past success, the awards in New York, Tennessee. I about said no, but of course, caught up in the moment — I said yes.

Fast Forward: Today

It’s crazy on getting the chance to look back at the events I was able to participate in. Covering championships, meeting great friends, coaches, athletes. Then there’s the negative side — people who’ll try to undercut for a story, nab information, and of course — simply people you can’t get along with. It comes with the territory of course.

But that’s why I’ll always be glad of my opportunity in Erwin. Nestled in the Valley Beautiful, the office put faith in me to carry out an award-winning writers legacy. We’ve been able to win awards for sports coverage from the Tennessee Press Association in my time here. We’ve been able to forge great friendships with the readers, coaches and athletes.

And of course, they’ve allowed me to continue something that’s kept me going to this day — Writing.

I’m not sure what’s ahead. There are always the future dreams of becoming broadcaster or journalist at ESPN, Fox Sports. Or maybe become an author? Or maybe become an auditor for the IRS? Heck, I may not even make it to see tomorrow.

But no matter what happens in the future, I know I can continue to find solace in writing. And I hope that maybe one day, my experiences can be used as a building block for someone wanting to pursue an endeavor to become a writer. Doesn’t even have to be sports, of course.

You can never be afraid to follow your dream. However many problems you face in your life, you never now how long your journey will go…

But never forget to press PLAY.

A look at the hire of Robert McElwee as head coach of the UCHS football program.

January 30, 2014 by

 

(Parts of information gathered in this story was thanks to the assistance of examiner.com’s Donovan Stewart)

After coming off back-to-back playoff appearances, Unicoi County High School was looking for a bit of glue to patch together the progression of the football program. With a coaching career that began in 1968, the plan ahead is with longtime California journeyman Robert McElwee.

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Coach McElwee was named the head coach of the Blue Devils during a press conference held in Erwin on Tuesday. Pictured with McElwee is principal of UCHS, Dr. Chris Bogart (left), and Director of Schools Denise Brown (right). Erwin Record Staff Photo By Keeli Parkey

The brunt of the Californian’s career began during a playing career at San Jose State University (a trip that also saw McElwee room with current Raiders’ position coach Al Saunders). While notably serving as a positions coach and head coach at schools in the California – such as Fontana A.B. Miller and John Burroughs High Schools – his most recent stint was during 2010-2011 assisting longtime CA coach Mike Churchill at Laguna Beach High School. During his time at Burroughs, McElwee helped spearhead the school’s defensive to a deep postseason run and during his first year as a head coach at Burroughs – led the squad to a state final appearance inside the Northwestern Conference.

“There was a school in the district that was new, and group of freshmen, sophomore and a few 11th graders but the majority of the athletes stayed at the bigger school,” McElwee said about his most recent coaching endeavor at Laguna. “At the time, a good friend of mine (Mike Churchill) was the head coach and we got together a couple of other coaches and had the team within an extra point of making the playoffs in the first year. It was a fun experience.”

While posting a record near .500 throughout his tenure as a head coach for the past 15 years, McElwee enters a situation in Unicoi County where his bevy of X’s and O’s will be looked at to help expand a program that saw recent success under the previous staff – led by fifth year head coach Jerad Huskins.

“I had a couple of years to think about it,” McElwee said when deciding a head coaching endeavor. When the job was posted on the TSSAA website – McElwee put in his paperwork and received a phone a week later to make his case to become the next ‘Gentry General’

“When I came to the interview and I saw the enthusiasm the board had, their questions, their concerns for kids, community and football program, I knew this was the place to be. The people were a big part, I think these people are special.”

The McElwee-era officially begins next Tuesday when the coach will begin his commute to Erwin from the Cookeville to lead the weightlifting and off-season conditioning program in Erwin. The new head coach brings a Master’s Degree to the area in Physical Education and has been credited into implementing impressive weightlifting programs to past high schools, including Burroughs, A.B. Miller and Standpoint Post (Idaho). The head coach will serve in an administrative role throughout the remainder of the 2014 school year. McElwee will work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“The X’s and O’s are secondary,” McElwee said. “My philosophy is being a family. Bring in the kids into your family and when people buy in,” And the Blue Nation family best believe their first family get-together will be inside the weight room next week.

“Lifting weights and getting strong is the great equalizer,” McElwee added. “The weight room is a big part and a positive part of football and were going to spend a lot of time there this offseason.”

While “Coach Mac” will be delving head first into the offseason conditioning and staff vetting next season, he also eluded to the junior football and middle school program during Tuesday’s presser.

“First things first of course but they will be involved at the varsity level,” he said. “They’ll be welcomed and invited into the varsity program into the weightroom and I’ll be meeting with the coaches so we all can be on the same page on running and working out the same ideas. You don’t need to be as sophisticated, football is not really that difficult, but with those lower levels, it’s just about getting them ready.”

During his time before entering Unicoi County, the coach was noted to be near the Cookeville-area, picking the brains of local coaches and types of offenses and has been credited as a guy who “Knows his stuff”, “One of the best X’s and O’s guys around”. 

Past teams under coach McElwee saw success when the team predominately had a feature back – which is a big indicator for the returning team – led by upcoming senior and last year’s regular season Three Rivers Conference rushing leader Luke Fronckoski.

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The hire looks to be a home run for a program looking to sure up it’s resources and look to be a consistent contender in the Three Rivers Conference race. Renovations look to be on the way with facilities and according to Director Brown  “If we need to bring outside people in, we will,” she said. “We will do whatever we need to do to make sure the football program is successful. We’re committed to these kids and coaches.”

 

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 Get your cleats and playbooks out. It’s looking to be a exciting time with the 2014 season around the bend for Unicoi County football.

Key Conference Tilts Await This Weekend

January 16, 2014 by

Winter weather has hit once again, thankfully not as bad as it was early this month, but feel free to grab some hot chocolate and take in some Thursday reading.

After a pair of blowout wins on Tuesday, its coming down to crunch time for Unicoi County High School’s varsity program.

The Blue Devils and Lady Devils will host two contests this week, beginning with Happy Valley on Friday, Jan. 17, and end the week with a Saturday tilt against Sullivan South.

UCHS Blue Devils

Three Rivers Conference Standings (MBB)

1) Sullivan South

2) Unicoi County

3) Elizabethton

4) Johnson County

5) Sullivan East

6) Sullivan North

7) Happy Valley

Along with Connor Simpson, Nic Chambers has helped the Blue Devils seal up a dominating post presence in the past four games. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

Along with Connor Simpson, Nic Chambers has helped the Blue Devils seal up a dominating post presence in the past four games. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

The Blue Devils host Happy Valley on Friday. Both teams met back on Tuesday, Dec. 3, with UCHS taking a 78-42 contest over the Warriors. While the team has a high-octane contest in store on Friday, the team isn’t taking this stretch lately, according to senior Nic Chambers.

“We know we control our own destiny,” Chambers said in a recent interview with The Erwin Record. “We want to win the conference title and we want to use that as a building block of other stuff we’re wanting to accomplish.”

The team enters the stretch after recording a league victory over a feisty Sullivan North squad.

“It’s like like what we talked about in the locker room,” head coach John English said following the team’s 67-51 win against Sullivan North on Tuesday, Jan. 14. “We’re in the thick of a conference race and we need to be focus every night. There’s not a lot of time left, you want your trajectory pointing up going into tournaments and it’s that time now that we play consistent and playing up to the level we’re capable of each night.”

After a bit of a stagnant first quarter – the team went on to lock in and pull away with the victory. Nic Chambers (14 points), Connor Simpson (13 points), Keith Arrowood (11 points) and Ethan Rice (10 points) all hit double figure scoring totals in the contest.

The gears are stir churning but the weapons are in place for a potential deep run inside the postseason. One of the key instruments to the recent success has been the play of Simpson (a double-double in past three contests and has recorded 21, 30 and 13 point games in the past three league wins) in the post.

Connor Simpson has made a case for the league's MVP nomination. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

Connor Simpson has made a case for the league’s MVP nomination. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

UCHS has rattled off a four game win streak since their loss to Jeff County in the Super 16 tournament Saturday, Dec. 28.

A developed bench has come into play – with Keith Arrowood providing a defensive spark after recovering from a broken leg – the senior posted his first double-digit scoring game this season, with all 11 points coming in the first half against North.

Thomas Tipton, Zach Thelen, Sam Wilder, Austin Hendrickson also provided depth on the varsity level and the ‘Twin Towers’ have another tower getting built with Jr. Will Shelton starting to bulldoze his way in the post.

Lucas Hensley and Austin Green are the pair of guards who make up the starting five with Chambers, Rice and Simpson, and provide ball-handling prowess and those ‘key’ shots a team needs to start up a rally.

HVHS enters Erwin on Friday after suffering a 78-36 loss to Erwin,

And there may even be a chance UCHS and South will enter Saturday’s contest tied with one league loss apiece.

Sullivan South (currently 5-0) in league action, hosts Sullivan East on Friday and head the direction of John Dyer – recently honored during the squad’s game against Johnson County on Tuesday for his years coaching – you really can’t count out the Patriots. South has won the past three meetings against East; however, with the squad clicking following their appearance in the Arby’s Classic.

Both games are set with a 8 p.m. tip-off

UCHS Lady Devils

Three Rivers Conference Standings (WBB)

1) Elizabethton

2) Sullivan East

3) Sullivan South

4) Unicoi County

5) Happy Valley

6) Johnson County

7) Sullivan North

The guys aren’t the only ones with an important stretch of games this weekend. After eclipsing a 7-10 record, the squad rattled off three straight wins – including two league victories – to move back into the .500 territory with a 10-10 record and tied for third in the league with Sullivan East at 4-2.

The team currently has a starting ‘seven’ according to head coach Kerri King. Destinie Hayes, Hannah Rice, Chelsey Harness, Morgan Lee Brown and Haley Webb have been the starting five the past three contests. Sr. Whitley True has been sideline due to injury and Jr. Emily Lynch has been a vital sixth ‘woman’ for the Lady Devils.

On Tuesday, during the squad’s 77-29 with over Sullivan North, the depth continued to extend with Fr. Neelee Griffith coming off a performance with five points, seven rebounds, four steals and a trio of assists.

Neelee Griffith is one of the bench players making plays for UCHS (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

Neelee Griffith is one of the bench players making plays for UCHS (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

“To extend our rotation for us a little bit, she’s the next one in,” King said of Griffith. “And she’s had a good game for us tonight.”

It’s a role Griffith takes seriously as a freshman. The bench combined for 20 points of the team’s final 77 Tuesday.

“I thought our junior varsity did good and our varsity team did excellent,” Griffith said. “I want to go in and help any way I can.”

And the freshman has, seeing extended time in the past trio of contests. Along with Griffith – Cassie Foster dropped eight points in the win while Haley Peterson and Ashlie Padgett got into the scoring forte.

And when it comes to the starters -it’s a group that’s continuing to develop over time. The welcome surprise in the past pair of games has been Hayes – in her Jr. season. The rebound-machine is near the 350-mark in boards 20 games in the season but saw a recent spark in offensive production with double-doubles in the past three contests. (12 points, 24 boards vs JCHS, 11 points, 24 boards vs David Crockett and 16 points, 15 boards against Sullivan North). Harness has posted double digits scoring in the past two contests – 10 points each – and Rice continues to anchor the scoring – coming off a 19-point game-high vs North.

The perimeter has continued to stay hot under the hot-shots from Webb and Brown. Webb dropped 20 against JCHS and Brown has provided sparks from behind the arc.

Channeling an inner-Reggie Miller, Morgan Lee Brown has brought an added threat to the arc (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Adam Campbell)

Channeling an inner-Reggie Miller, Morgan Lee Brown has brought an added threat to the arc (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Adam Campbell)

It’s been an adjustment, according to Brown, but that adjustment hasn’t been a negative.

“The junior varsity has played well,” she said. “And our varsity has continued to get better. With Whitley (True) being out, we’ve been stepping up to fill in for her.”

And the big win over North should catapult the girls with momentum against HVHS and South.

“It’s good for us,” she said. “It’s big for us to get back into winning and to get us back on our feet with our confidence.”

The UCHS teams won the previous encounter against HVHS on Dec. 3, 53-42. HVHS enters the game after a blowout lost to EHS.

As for Saturday, Sullivan South hosts Sullivan East and the Lady Rebels won in their last encounter but the Patriots are coming off a blowout victory against Johnson County from Tuesday.

It”s been a year of adjustments for both teams, but when they’re clicking – the teams bring back memories of old for the Blue Nation in attendance.

The UCHS girls’ tip-off times begin at 6:30 p.m. each night.

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The Erwin Record will be providing live-game coverage on the next two contests (along with contributing articles to local papers on the games). You can follow action online at The Erwin Record Sports on Facebook.

You can follow me on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER for Unicoi County sports news throughout the week, along with local and national news tied in.

 

And the running theme with these In Overtime posts – to get fired up for this weekend, here’s some Van Halen.

Complete Schedule Updates for Unicoi County Athletics.

January 7, 2014 by

The Polar Vortex is no fan of sports, apparently.

Mother nature brought the hammer down with cold weather and schedules have been affected. Here’s the up to date look at this week’s Unicoi County athletics and makeup dates.

———————————————————

Thursday, Jan. 9

Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Blue Devils at Ross Robinson (JV 4:30/ V 5:30). Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Lady Devils host Ross Robinson (JV 4:30/ V 5:30)

tip-off

****
Friday, Jan. 10

UCHS hosts Johnson County. (MBB FR. 3:30 p.m./MBB J.V. 5 p.m./WBB V 6:30 p.m./ MBB V 8 p.m.)

****
Saturday, Jan. 11

UCHS travels to David Crockett. (MBB Fr. 2 p.m./WBB JV 3:30 p.m./MBB JV 5 p.m./WBB V 6:30 p.m./ MBB V 8 p.m.)

 

RESCHEDULED DATES

—-

Saturday, Jan. 18 – Unicoi County High School hosts Sullivan South (Game was postponed due to inclement weather on Tuesday, Jan. 7) — WBB JV – 3:30 p.m. MBB JV – 5 p.m. WBB V – 6:30 p.m. MBB V – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 14 - The Unicoi County Middle School/Greeneville Middle School basketball – Jr. Blue Devils will be at home, the Jr. Lady Devils will travel. Game times for both: JV at 5 p.m. and V at 6 p.m. 

Unicoi County High School boys freshmen team will play Sullivan South on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. in Erwin. Jan. 30th – South hosts UC at 7 p.m.

For up to date information on Unicoi County athletics – be sure to follow The Erwin Record Sports on Facebook and to follow The Erwin Record sports on Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER.

Ringing in the New Year – In Overtime?

December 31, 2013 by

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Definitely want to take the time out to wish the readers of The Erwin Record a Happy New Year’s. To have a bit of fun before 2014, I dabble a little with Pheed and posted some audio on the UCHS basketball teams and my moments of 2013.

You can check out the Jan. 1 edition of The Erwin Record for a Top Ten of 2013 nominated on by the readers of the paper along with a look back of UCHS athletics. If these bits are something people enjoy, we’ll be looking to further expand on this idea in 2014, along with a few other tricks up our sleeve.

A bevy of events are tap for Unicoi County in the coming weeks: Be sure to visit The Erwin Record online on Facebook at The Erwin Record Sports and to follow me on Twitter at: CurtisCarden_ER for daily updates before our Wednesday publication.

UCHS Blue Devil Basketball

UCHS Lady Devils Basketball

My Top Moments of 2013

And since this is a thing I’ve done time to time with ‘In Overtime’ – here’s a bit of music to ring in the New Year.

Have a good one, folks!

The Erwin Record's Jan. 1 sports front page.

The Erwin Record’s Jan. 1 sports front page.

Christmas time… in Overtime?

December 26, 2013 by

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

‘Tis the season for more basketball, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Figured it was time to give a Christmas edition of In Overtime with a preview of the high school basketball teams’ tournaments tomorrow, my current top four who I think will be heading to the regional tournament in AA… and N*SYNC?

Blue Devils’ Bearden bound

(this is just a 1-on-1 with readers to have fun while taking a look at Unicoi County athletics)

Connor Simpson dropped 20-plus in a win against Unaka to give the Blue Devils a key win heading to Bearden

Connor Simpson dropped 20-plus in a win against Unaka to give the Blue Devils a key win heading to Bearden

The Unicoi County High School Blue Devil basketball team will embark to Knoxville tomorrow with a stint in the Super 16 Tournament host at Bearden High School. UCHS begins tournament action at 5:30 p.m. against South Doyle in the opening round. SD brings a 3-8 record to the tournament. One of the Cherokees’ wins actually came from Cherokee High School (53-51) on Fri, Dec, 6 during a home game at South Doyle. Cherokee is the only similar opponents the Blue Devils and Cherokees share this season (The Blue Devils defeated Cherokee High School in the opening round of the Hardee’s Classic, 50-38). The most recent game for South Doyle fell on Dec. 16 – where the Cherokee’s fell to an 11-2 Knox Karns ball team, 84-67.

Tournament time continues on Friday, Dec. 26. A loss will place the Blue Devils in the 4 p.m. consolation bracket play. A win sends the team to a 7 p.m. tip-off in the winners’ bracket. The teams will meet either Knox Bearden or Unaka – pending the result of their opening round contest.

Knoxville Bearden enters the tournament with a 7-4 record with losse coming to Hillcrest, S.C., in a recent tourney, a close 77-73 decision to Hardin Valley, Jeff County and an opening season loss to Oak Ridge during the Hall of Fame games week.

As for Unaka – UCHS fans know a little bit about the Rangers. Unaka enters the contest after pushing UCHS to a close game late (including a snooze-fest of a free-throw battle) which the Blue Devils went on to win, 65-53. The Blue Devils swept the regular season non-conference contest against the WVC school. Unaka brings a 6-9 record to the tournament. A highlighted win for Unaka is a 55-35 win on Tuesday, Dec. 10 against conference rival – University High.

The Championship game for the tournament will fall on Saturday, Dec. 28 at 8:30 p.m. The third place game will be at 7 p.m. while other consolation games will precede on the same date.

Lady Devils travel to Fulton

Morgan Lee Brown dropped a pair of three pointers Monday as the Lady Devils coasted to a big win over Unaka. The Lady Devils hit 12 three-pointers. Hannah Rice led with 17 points, Emily Lynch had 15 points and Haley Webb tacked on 14.

Morgan Lee Brown dropped a pair of three pointers Monday as the Lady Devils coasted to a big win over Unaka. The Lady Devils hit 12 three-pointers. Hannah Rice led with 17 points, Emily Lynch had 15 points and Haley Webb tacked on 14.

The ladies of the Blue Nation will also be set up in Knoxville for the remainder of the week by participating in the Fulton Christmas Classic to be held at Knox Fulton High School beginning tomorrow.

UCHS begins tournament action with a 3 p.m. tip-off against Campbell County – a team currently at 6-3 on the year. 

CC currently has a bit of momentum on their side, rattling off five straight district wins over Knox Central, Knox Gibbs, Knox Karns, Oak Ridge and Clinton. Their three losses came against Stone Memorial, Lenoir City and Anderson County. 

Tournament time for the Lady Devils continue of Friday. A loss sends the ladies to a 3 p.m. tip-off while a win sends the girls to a 6 p.m. start time. The teams will await the decision of the opening round contest against Seymour and Alcoa to see who’ll they play that day. 

Alcoa (5-5) enters the tournament coming off a loss to Maryville on Friday, Dec. 20, 48-34. Recent wins came against Kingston and McMinn County. As for Seymour (6-6) the Lady Eagles enter the tournament after coming off a 59-53 loss to Heritage on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

The Fulton Christmas Classic will conclude on Saturday, Dec. 28. The championship game will be played at 7:30 p.m. with the third place game coming at 6 p.m. Remaining consolation games will be played prior to these games earlier in the day.

***

While local tournaments like the Arby’s Classic for the boys and Trailblazer Classic for the girls dominate headlines locally, the UCHS teams can definitely use the stretch down in Knoxville to open up the 2014 season on a high-note. You always want to win these tournaments, of course, but the main common emphasis for the stretch, for both teams, is to get the look at talent down in the middle and western part of the state. Both UCHS teams have potential to make postseason runs, The tournament time, win or lose, will come in vital importance for both teams, especially when the regular season in the new year opens back up on Sat. Jan. 4 at home against Cloudland. 

Had a couple people ask about opinions come tournament time: Here’s what I expect the teams to fall during the districts. All tentative for injuries and other circumstances.

MBB - Have the Blue Devils with the first seed going into the regional tournament. Elizabethton – Sullivan South towards that top as well but with the coaching staff, starters/role players stepping up and Keith Arrowood’s return… I’d be a fool to pick any other way with what I’ve seen so far this season. Top 4 going to regionals: UCHS, EHS, South, Johnson County. Dyer is a tremendous head coach with Sullivan East and Grayson Ball can carry Sullivan North…but coach Atwood knows how to have his team ready to play come tournament time.

WBB - I’m giving the Lady Devils a TENTATIVE two seed going into the regional. Decision comes from the losses from Sullivan East and Elizabethton. That being said – a developing rotation with Hannah Rice coming into her own at point, Chelsey Harness getting back into old and the rebound machine Destinie Hayes. The team has too many talented shooters with Haley Webb, Whitley True, Emily Lynch and Morgan Lee Brown to count them out in contests. Harness, Rice and Hayes inside will open things open. And I realistically see the Lady Devils pulling off a road victory against East and home game against Elizabethton (They’ve been the only TRC team it seems that’s had EHS’ number past two years at home). But there’s too much parity in the league. Placed on the spot – RIGHT NOW – top four into regional would be: EHS, UCHS, South, HV – tough decision picking between them and East … giving HV current advantage with home court during districts). 

Any complaints can be sent to the email of Santa Claus. He’s on my naughty list for not coming up with a tank or Jennifer Lawrence today. These are just the opinions of yours truly.

***

Nominations for the Top 10 of 2013 are going until Friday, Dec. 27. Readers can pick their top moment of 2013 and see if it makes the list of the top moments of Unicoi County athletics throughout last year. The list will appear in the ‘Off the Field’ column. Nominations can be sent via email to ccarden@erwinrecord.net or Tweeted to @CurtisCarden_ER or even comment on The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page.

***

For updates throughout the week on Unicoi County athletics, be sure to follow The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page. You can also follow me on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER. Questions, comments or epic presents of epicness can be sent via email to ccarden@erwinrecord.net

 

And of course, I hope readers had a great Christmas and are ready to get back to hoops action across the state. And because I’m comfortable enough to be random – here’s a bit of N*SYNC to ring out the Christmas time.

Unicoi County and Hampton set to tango Friday

December 12, 2013 by

If you have never checked out Deadspin, you are missing out of some definite sports nuggets. First, the social networking famous Urban Meyer eating cold Papa John’s pizza in a golf cart following Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big 10 championship picture from this weekend. Now they caught up with a future Tom Landry, of the gaming world, who’s looking to become the next head coach of the University of North Dakota football team. Be sure to to click the link for probably the best, ever, job inquiry.

Now that the laughs are here. Let’s take a look at this Friday, where non-conference games highlight the night for Unicoi County High School hoops.

Friday, December 13, 2013 – Unicoi County at Hampton

The night cap features a battle of potential conference champions for their respective leagues. Unicoi County (Three Rivers) boasts a 10-0 record while Hampton (Watauga Valley) holds two losses (7-2), one to AAA Science Hill during ‘Hall of Champions’ week and a road contest to Grace Christian Academy – a potential sub-state matchup in 2014. Both boys’ teams are coming off big wins from Tuesday (UCHS over Sullivan East – 70-51, and Hampton over Elizabethton – 71-57).

Let’s take a look at the past three season, where the Blue Devils have controlled the meetings, 5-1.

2012-2013 season
Unicoi County 51-46
Unicoi County 60-53

2011-2012 season
Unicoi County 82-70
Unicoi County 71-64 —- This year also featured Davey Edwards set the all-time school record with three-pointers made in a game for UCHS.

2010-2011 season
Unicoi County 49-41
Hampton 75-74 – (This Unicoi County team finished 30-4 on the year. Losses came to Daniel Boone, Knox Karns, Stone Memorial in the Sectional tourney… and Hampton)

And FWIW – if you weren’t there during the overtime festivities back during the 2010-2011 year, you missed out on probably one of the best games that could have been played. Still talk to the day if Logan Lyle’s shot went in before time expired. I think everybody won that night.

Getting off-subject. Over the years, the Blue Devils have had a handle of the series but only one game featured a victory over 10 points. The games always have intrigue this year is no different. Hampton has put their mark on the season with being a tough opponent and a Three Rivers Conference slayer – by knocking off Elizabethton twice, already, and defeating Sullivan North earlier in the year. Unicoi County, on the other hand, has been pushed to the limits by the likes of Sullivan South and David Crockett so far this season and out of the past 10 games, have held teams to less than 50 points per contest. (two of the three games featuring 50-plus efforts were against David Crockett, who knocked off Daniel Boone this season, and Sullivan East on Tuesday)

Top performers from HHS on Tuesday were Stanley Valentine (16 points, 11 rebounds). Cody McClain nearly eclipsed triple-double status from his guard spot. Senior Cheyenne Camillo and sophomore Coby Jones are also a pair of guards the team will be looking to bank on.

For the Blue Devils – it flows through point guard Ethan Rice, coming off a 16 point game against Sullivan East. The current starting five presents a pair of 6-4 problems in the likes of seniors, Nic Chambers and Connor Simpson. Lucas Hensley also hauled in 11 boards on the night while Austin Green presented a stalwart defensive effort with five steals.

UCHS begins a busy 4-game stretch before the Knox Bearden tournament (Hampton, Cloudland, Elizabethton, Unaka). The steady dose of TRC and WVC teams before Knoxville comes calling looks to be an early Christmas experience for the Blue Devils.

Lady Devils and the Lady Bulldogs

An interesting matchup when look at the both teams. Hampton is coming off a big loss from Elizabethton on Tuesday but is currently bracing to be without senior post, Paige Montgomery, for the remainder of the season due to knee injury. On the flip side, the Lady Devils encountered a well-motivated Sullivan East team that kept up the pressure defense to knock off UCHS in similar fashion.

The Lady Bulldogs are a potential state tournament contender in A while the Lady Devils are on the verge of going on a tear.

TALE OF THE TAPE

2012-2013 season
Hampton 60-55
Hampton 51-49

2011-2012 season
Unicoi County 66-58
Hampton 53-51 (Johnson City Honda -[Johnson City .... now just picture the dude from the commercial here] Trailblazer Invitational )
Unicoi County 54-39

2010-2011 season
Unicoi County 61-54
Hampton 55-47

Hampton controls this evenly matched series, 4-3, with the Lady Bulldogs taking the most recent meetings

UCHS – While she’s not at 100%, the added benefit of junior Chesley Harness was felt quick during North and came in off the bench and provided size in the post while attributing six points and four rebounds in the game against East. Hannah Rice is the playmaker for the Lady Devils while guards Whitley True, Emily Lynch and Haley Webb have the ability to turn up the intensity from the perimeter. In the paint, this game could hinge on Destinie Hayes. Hayes forced a double-team against a taller-Sullivan East team and still hauled in eight boards. With a potential size advantage and Hayes’ ability in the paint – the Lady Devils could look to upend the Lady Dogs’

HHS – It all starts with guard Alexis Bowers, who has double-double skills going into every game. While replacing Dorothy Dugger looked to be a big adjustment – underclassman Kim Swearingen has filled the shoes nicely and hit double figures against EHS on Tuesday (10 points). The Irick twins, Hannah and Kaitlin, along with Monica Olvera nearly paint these teams to be identical.

Talented guards. Everywhere. The game has the chances of coming down to the wire. But what else would you expect in the series?

Shults heading to Milligan

Unicoi County High School will see one of their netters take their talents to the next level with Conly Shults set to announce his signing to Milligan College for tennis next week. The Blue Devil was the No. 1 for the team last year, has a state title under his belt, and is looking to be the top tennis prospect inside the Three Rivers Conference this season under head coach Elizabeth Pruitt.

Burnett, Harris head to Va. Sunday for football

A pair of Blue Devil football standouts, Hunter Burnett and Cody Harris, will join a 98 other football players at Virginia High on Sunday for the annual FCA senior bowl football game that pits Northeast Tennessee against Southwest Virginia. Tennessee has controlled the series that past three years. Kickoff in Va. is set for 2 p.m.

Schedule for UCHS and middle school athletics are featured here on In Overtime older posts and on The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER. Live updates for the Elizabethton Star and The Erwin Record on Friday’s contest will come throughout the night. And feel free to help with my OCD. Nine off from 500.

And just becomes it’s become a running theme to do this, here’s another 80’s classic to leave y’all on. Be sure to not go “SEPARATE WAYS” in icy weather! Ba-zing! (I’ll stick with my day job.)

Schedule for the week of Dec. 8

December 9, 2013 by

MONDAY, DEC 9.

Unicoi County Middle School vs. Vance Middle School – Boys (@Vance), Girls (@UCMS) – JV Games at 5 p.m. V Games at 6 p.m.

Unicoi County High School freshmen Blue Devils at Sullivan East – 7 p.m.

TUESDAY, Dec. 10

Sullivan East at Unicoi County High School

JV Girls – 3:30 p.m.

JV Boys – 5 p.m.

V Girls – 6:30 p.m.

V Boys – 8 p.m.

THURSDAY, DEC. 12

Unicoi County Middle School vs. John Sevier Middle School – Boys (@UCMS) Girls (@Sevier) – JV Games at 4:30 p.m. V Games at 5:30 p.m.

FRIDAY, DEC. 13

Unicoi County High School at Hampton

JV Girls at 3:30 p.m.

JV Boys at 5 p.m.

V Girls at 6:30 p.m.

V Boys at 8 p.m.

SATURDAY, DEC. 14

UCHS Freshmen Blue Devils at Hampton – 10 a.m.

 

SUNDAY, DEC. 15.

Tennessee/Virginia annual FCA senior bowl football game – Virginia High School, Bristol, Va. – 2 p.m.

—–

For a full look at the previous week of Unicoi County athletics with comprehensive coverage and interviews, be sure to pick up a copy of the 12/11 edition of The Erwin Record. For updates and information throughout the week – be sure to follow the The Erwin Record on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

The Erwin Record Sports on Twitter - https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Erwin-Record-Sports/110099162405853

Twitter – Sportswriter Curtis Carden: @CurtisCarden_ER - https://twitter.com/CurtisCarden_ER, photographer Adam Campbell: @ACphotoAdam - https://twitter.com/ACphotoAdam


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