Unaka rides Dugger's 41, Tops UH

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   How does Aaron Dugger top a career high 40 point-performance on Monday night? By scoring 41 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in an 81-63 Unaka win over University High Friday night at Snavely Gym.
   "We all had to step up," said Dugger, whose next scoring effort could very well match his jersey number of 42. "This was a big conference game. This got us on the right track. I have to thank Dustin Collins. He played real well and got me the ball at spots where I was open.
   "I got a few putbacks and got going in the second half."
   Added Unaka head coach Donald Ensor about Dugger, "He's worked for this. It started four years ago. He took it individually and took it to heart. We also had Ben (Cole) with 18 and Dustin had 16. Those guys played well too. We played 11 guys tonight and they all played hard."
   Cole grabbed 11 boards to go along with his 18 points. "I was real pleased about it," said Cole about his team's strong rebounding efforts. "They were a lot bigger than us. We just boxed out real good. When we have the ball, that's what we have to do. We see the ball and go after it. Everybody on our team did that tonight."
   The Junior Bucs, who were playing without the services of star forward Jabari Bowers, made a fight out of it through a 22-point effort by Jermaine Lomans and 15 more tossed in by Brandon Bradley.
   "Our game plan was to get after Dugger hard," said UH head coach Tony Gordon. "We contested all his shots, but we didn't keep him off the boards. Foul trouble and getting very, very tired hurt us tonight. Everybody who was at the game understands this wasn't really an 18-point game. We just gave out of gas at the end."
   While the Rangers got plenty of output from their scorers, they also turned up the wick defensively with different players from Dugger to Cole to Rusty Chambers hitting the floor to take charges. If that wasn't enough, Cody Collins made a key strip late in the contest that sparked a Ranger run.
   "I was proud of the whole team," said Cole. "Everybody played hard and played right. We played Ranger basketball again just like we did in our last game (a win over highly-touted Tabernacle Baptist from the Bahamas). If we keep on doing that, we will be all right."
   The Rangers, fresh off their impressive showing in the Arby's Classic, now are 2-0 in league play and 10-7 overall. The Junior Bucs drop to 0-2 in the Watauga Valley Conference and have a 5-8 overall mark.
   "We missed some open shots early," said Ensor. "But, we kept playing hard even though the shots weren't falling and got a good conference win. It was a total team effort."
   Unaka 53, University High 32 (Girls)
   Mandy Roberson literally took charge in the third quarter of this Lady Ranger win. Roberson hit three treys and drew two charges in a decisive 16-2 run that blew the game open for Unaka.
   "She has had a good attitude," commented Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers about the senior guard. "The last couple of months, she has stepped up and been the leader she could be. In my opinion, she's one of the best players around here. She doesn't get the recognition sometimes, because she has to play with a lot of young players and freshmen. But, she has done a good job."
   Roberson proved her listening skills by making the big defensive plays when the team needed it the most. "I told her if you can cut off the sidelines, you can take a charge on them," said Chambers. "Mandy, Alesha (Buckles) and some of those girls are good about taking charges, but all the girls are getting better at it."
   Another Roberson, Julie, tied Mandy as Unaka's high scorer pumping in 12 points. It was also a fruitful night for the Taylor twins with Kelly scoring 10 and Heather adding 4.
   Also making the difference for Unaka was Coty Townsend, who worked inside to grab a team-high nine rebounds. Her efforts were needed as Unaka only led 28-25 early in the third quarter, before the explosion that carried them to the win.
   What was remarkable about the Lady Rangers margin of victory is this came despite getting outrebounded and attempting 28 fewer free throws than the visiting Lady Bucs.
   "They were playing tight with us," said Chambers. "It wasn't called bad or anything, they just got in better situations. They outhustled us in the first half and it forced us to foul a lot."
   Beth Helmbrect scored 12 and Crystal Evans grabbed nine boards to pace University High.
   "They showed a lot of heart," remarked Lady Buc head coach Amy Horton about her team. "They went hard to the very last minute. We just couldn't get shots to fall and made some bad passes. We have plenty to work on in practice.
   "We only hit 7 of 39 from the floor. I think The goal had a lid on it. Our shooting was terrible. But, Unaka did a great job pressuring us. They earned that victory."
   The Lady Rangers improve to 2-0 in the conference and 4-9 overall with the win, while UH slips to 0-2 in league play and 4-6 overall.