Jellico’s varsity boys didn’t just open the high school basketball season with a bang Friday night at Knoxville. They opened it with a bombshell.
Cody Malicoat gunned in a game-high 22 points to lead the Class A Blue Devils to a 64-58 upset of the Class AAA Halls High School Red Devils in a TSSAA Hall of Fame Game.
Malicoat, a junior forward who transferred from Campbell County High earlier this year, scored 11 points in each half and also hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Frontcourt mates Dustin Smiddy and Michael Smith also made major contributions to the victory with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Ethan Shelley chipped in half a dozen points and was a major force on defense for the Blue Devils (1-0 overall). Chris Lay added five points, followed by Lee England with 4 and Tyler Bolton 1.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Jellico coach Mike Reynolds.
“Halls is not the best team in the world, but they’re still a triple A team. Normally, whenever we play those big schools, our kids are just trying to survive.”
Not only did the Blue Devils survive, they seemed to thrive in the spotlight of metro Knoxville basketball.
Playing without two starters, Jellico built a double-digit lead and held it for most of the game until Halls (0-2 overall) made a late run to get within 6 points at the final buzzer. The game was tied twice during the first quarter, but the Blue Devils held the lead on four occasions in the early going. Jellico led by as many as 14 points in the second period when Malicoat and Smiddy began hitting from 3-point range.
By halftime, the Red Devils had trimmed their deficit to 12 points, 37-25. Halls could make little headway until the final minutes. Sharpshooter Thomas Corcione grabbed a teammate’s miss and drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut Jellico’s lead to 64-56 with 1:15 remaining. The Red Devils scored 2 more points but could get no closer.
With Shelley shadowing his every move, Halls star Stetson Moore had to work for his team-high 19 points.
“Ethan Shelley did a super job of defending the Moore kid,” said Reynolds.
England played well after making the switch from shooting guard to point during the preseason. He is filling in for Gabe Mitchell, who is being held out of the lineup until after Christmas so he can get his grades up.
“Lee’s not a pure point guard, but he did a good job,” said Reynolds.
“He’s a good athlete.”
Forward Brent Ayers missed the game because of a sprained ankle, but is expected to be available this week for the Grizzly Classic at Grainger County.
“Our kids have spent a lot of time and effort in the gym and in the weight room. We’ve got an opportunity to have a pretty good season,” said Reynolds.
Lady Blue Devils fall
Jellico’s girls were not quite as fortunate as the boys in their season opener at Knox Halls. The Lady Blue Devils fell, 63-13. Kayla Bolton led Jellico (0-1 overall) with 5 points, followed by Ashley Gulley with 3, Rachael Ayers and Natasha Taylor 2 each, and Ashley Ouimette 1.
Sydney Carden led all scorers with 24 points for Halls (2-0 overall).