By Tim Chambers
Unicoi got in its comfort zone after building a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter on Friday against Johnson County, but Lucas Philips just about gave them a heart attack with his red hot shooting in the game. He tossed in 12 fourth-quarter points and gathered 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half helping the Horns nearly pull off a remarkable upset on Friday, but they fell by a three-point 53-50 to the Blue Devils. Brett Lingerfelt topped Unicoi County with 17 points as he knocked down four 3-pointers. Brock Thompson tallied 11 points in the first half as the Blue Devils led 25-16 at intermission.
Unicoi County improved to 12-10 overall and 3-3 in the conference, Johnson County (7-18, 1-5) got 17 points from Michael Oxentine before he fouled out in the final stanza. Unicoi’s 10-point lead was erased thanks to the Longhorns’ Lucas Phillips. He scored a dozen of his game-best 29 points in the fourth quarter that kept fans on the edge of their seats. Johnson County’s inability to hit shots at close range pretty much prevented the Horns a chance to win the game.
“We couldn’t hit out free throws against Hampton, and we definitely would have won tonight had we made our layups,” said head coach Austin Atwood. “We’re three or four points closer to getting some wins. Our kids gave a great effort, and they did play hard, but we have to make those shots. We got outrebounded in the second quarter, and that hurt us. We’re getting better, but we still got a ways to go.”
Brett Lingerfelt helped Unicoi County with 17 points as he knocked down four 3-pointers. Brock Thompson used 11 points in the first half as the Blue Devils led 25-16 at the break. Unicoi County improved to 12-10 overall and 3-3 in the conference. The Devils’ winning streak is the longest since the 2017-18 squad won five straight in the postseason. The Blue Devils also won for the first time in a game decided by fewer than three points after losing the previous four this season. Johnson County (7-18, 1-5) will play Sullivan South on Tuesday.
UCHS 13 12 15 13 –53
JCHS 8 8 14 29 –50
Johnson Co. (52)
Phillips 29, Oxentine 17, Bower 3, Cunningham 6, Cross 3, Gentry 3
Unicoi Co. (53)
Thompson 13, Slagle 6, Lingerfelt 17, O’dell 5, Adkins 5, Lynch 4. Peterson 3