Thursday at 7pm, it’s Blue Devils vs. Blue Devils in rematch of 2011 region championship

By Clayton Carroll

HARRIMAN, TN (WLAF) – The year was 2011. The Jellico Blue Devils, led by Head Coach Mike Reynolds, defeated Midway and Oneida to set up a matchup with the Harriman Blue Devils for the Region 2-A championship. Michael Smith, Lee England, and Brent Ayers gained All-Region honors as they led Jellico to a 70-68 victory against host Harriman in the championship game. Blue Devil Cody Malicote was tabbed the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.

Jellico’s season concluded in the school first-ever home sub-state game the following Monday at Lindsay Gym, a loss to Cloudland. The season record ended up being 21 & 13 with the 2011 senior class becoming the winningest senior class in the history of Jellico’s basketball program.

TOP PHOTO: Jellico and Harriman meet up Thursday at 7pm at Harriman.

Fast forward to 2024, and Coach Mike Reynolds has led his Blue Devils to a 19 and 10 record with a berth in the region championship game once again. This time, Carson Bolton and Isaac McNealy are the Blue Devil standouts. To punch their ticket to the region title game this year, Jellico rode the Green Wave of Midway on their way to an 88-72 victory in the semifinal of the region tourney.

The opponent for the Blue Devils is the same as it was in 2011, the Harriman Blue Devils. Harriman, led by Coach Shay Shannon, enters the contest 26 and 2 on the year, and defeated Oliver Springs 66-58 in the other semifinal to make it to the championship game.

Jellico and Harriman have faced off twice this season, with Harriman winning both contests. Harriman won at Jellico 98-82 and at Harriman 83-77.

Coach Reynolds, after concluding a non-strenuous, walkthrough-type practice on Wednesday, said that Jellico simply needs to “play loose.” He mentioned that there is really “no pressure” on Jellico. Because, no matter the outcome, Jellico has guaranteed themselves a spot in the state tournament qualifier, as has Harriman. The winner of tonight’s contest will, on Monday night, host the loser of the University High(Johnson City)/North Greene (Greeneville) contest. The loser of the region championship game will travel to the winner of the aforementioned game. 

Reynolds went on to say that Harriman will play a similar man-to-man, fast-paced game, just as his Jellico squad does. Coach said that a major key in stopping Harriman’s offense is containing the fast, 6-7 forward Jordan McCullum. Reynolds said that Jellico just needs to “play for one another,” and that it should be an exciting battle.

Tip-off between Jellico and Harriman is at 7pm from Harriman High School. WLAF and WJJT will provide dual radio coverage like on Tuesday. Watch the live telecast of the game over any of the WLAF media platforms; (the Lindsay’s Carpet & Paint Center video player), Roku, Amazon Fire, YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and WLAF-TV 1089. WLAF’s Josh Parker handles the play-by-play duties along with the rest of his broadcast team comprised of Matthew Moore, Derrick Marlow, Aaron Hopkins and Clayton Carroll.

Tonight’s game is presented by Hope+Stand, Common Ground, The Pizza Spot, Maximum Performance and UBank. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/29/2024-6AM-PHOTO COURTESY OF WLAF’S MATTHEW MOORE)