ERWIN — Emily Edwards gave an offensive clinic. Happy Valley’s girls were bedeviled.
The Lady Warriors faced a double-digit deficit by halftime and succumbed to Unicoi County, 58-34, in their District 1-AA girl’s semifinal tilt at Unicoi County High School.
Unicoi will face Elizabethton for the girl’s championship Monday night at the Devil’s Den with Happy Valley meeting Sullivan East for third place.
On the boys side, Sullivan East and Unicoi County cruised to the championship game. The Patriots disposed of the fatigued Longhorns, 57-26, while the Devils crushed Sullivan North in a 72-39 whipping.
In the second girls semifinal, Edwards, despite sitting much of the game in foul trouble, carried the Lady Devils from a three-point first quarter lead to a 15-point edge by the end of the half, scoring 20 first half points against the Lady Warriors.
“She did well tonight when she was in,” said Unicoi coach Josh Epperson of Edwards. “She played less minutes tonight as she has in the last fifteen games. Because of foul trouble she didn’t play as much as she normally good. That may be good because it keeps her rested for Monday night’s game. Obviously, we’d much rather have her on the floor.”
Happy Valley was held to six points in the second quarter and was unable to find much of a spark on the offensive end for the duration of the game.
“We executed well in the first half,” said Epperson. “It’s one of those things where it’s tough to play somebody three times. At times we lost our focus in the second half, but overall it was a nice performance.”
Whitley True added 11 points for the Devils, who outscored Happy Valley 26-17 in the second half for the final tally.
The Lady Warriors were paced by a nine-point performance from Jenna Eaton, while three others added six.
Unicoi’s attention turns to the Lady Cyclones, with whom they split during the regular season.
“The key thing when you play Elizabethton is controlling penetration and making sure they don’t get the ball inside,” said Epperson. “The second thing that always is a big factor is rebounding. They’re one of the better rebounding teams in this area of the state. We have to make sure we do a good job of stopping them on the boards.”
Sullivan East 57
Johnson Co. 26
Sullivan East opened with a 25-5 lead and never looked back.
Johnson County, winded off an upset of Elizabethton in Friday’s play-in game, was held to eight points in the first half and the Patriots took a 29-point lead into the locker room at the half.
The second half was filled with reserves as the Patriots called off the dogs.
“(Sullivan East) came out and I told David (Arnold), my assistant, they’ve been off for nine days, they’re either going to come out on fire or come out cold,” said Johnson County coach Austin Atwood. “Unfortunately they came out on fire and made some big shots. John Dyer is one of the best coaches in East Tennessee and he did the right thing. They pounded that thing inside the first two or three possessions and made sure they got great looks. He knew if they could get those short shots, they were going to get a rebound.”
Eleven different players got on the board for the Patriots led by David Casaday’s 14 points and Daniel Truett’s 11. Chase Kleine with 9 was tops for the Longhorns.
“What we’re happy about is getting to play at home Saturday,” said Sullivan East coach John Dyer. “That was the main goal of this tournament. I’m just proud of my guys for being ready and being tough. Johnson County is tough. Those are tough kids.”
The focus for Johnson County turns to a third place meeting with North with positioning in the Region 1-AA Tournament at stake.
“With the exception of us, with us upsetting Elizabethton, I think our top four teams are better than their top four by far, that’s counting Elizabethton,” said Atwood. “Now, we’ve put ourselves in a spot and we’re going to have to really play well and go on the road.
“Our kids do play well on the road. The travel doesn’t bother us, I don’t think. We’re going to have to come back Tuesday night and see if we can put ourselves in a better position.”
Unicoi Co. 72
Sullivan North 39
The Devils had their way from the get-go.
Trevor Shelton scored 20 points, while Austin Hensley added 13 on the offensive end.
North’s Chase Arnold was held to 11 points, while Will White was scoreless on the game due to stout defensive pressure from John English’s Unicoi squad.