Jr. Rangers stun 'Dogs at final horn

from staff reports

   An improbable shot turned into a thrilling victory Tuesday night for the Unaka Elementary boys basketball team.
   Trailing 31-30 and needing to go the length of the floor in just two seconds, the Junior Rangers got the ball to Kyle Wilson, who nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent Unaka to a 33-31 triumph at Hampton.
   "I thought both teams played real well," said Unaka coach Mark Revis. "We just hit one at the end to win it. It was a good ball game both ways. It could have gone either way."
   Wilson's shot came after the Junior Bulldogs had broken a 30-30 tie with a Jonathan Potter free throw.
   Estep was the star of the night for the Junior Rangers, scoring 16 points on the strength of three 3-pointers. Tee Blevins and Aaron Greer chipped in seven and six points, respectively.
   On the short end of a 12-5 score at the end of the first quarter, Unaka (11-3) closed the gap to three points (18-15) by intermission, then led 26-25 at the end of the third period.
   The Junior 'Dogs got a solid performance from Lucas Honeycutt, who tossed in 11 points. Cody Ford, Lucas Roark and Potter tallied six points apiece.
   The junior varsity contest saw Unaka register a 46-34 victory behind an 18-point effort by Brandon Roper. Hampton prevailed in the girls varsity tilt.
   Unaka goes to Little Milligan Thursday night, then entertains Range on Friday afternoon at 12:30.
   Central 36
   Cloudland 35
   Outscoring Cloudland 16-3 in the first quarter, the Comets held on for victory in a game between cross-county rivals.
   Chris Rutledge was the main man for the Comets, pumping in 17 points, while Rodney Armstrong had a solid output of 10 points.
   "We played awful tonight," said Central coach Lamont Barnett. "We were lucky to win. If I didn't have the athletes we have, we wouldn't have won."
   Cloudland, which started to get back in the game by outscoring Central 7-2 in the second quarter, received a 15-point effort from Adam Stevens.
   "Our players played hard," said Junior Highlanders coach Chris Collins. "All of our players contributed; this is the best game we have played all year. I'm very, very proud of them."
   Jordan Lewis totaled a big 17 points to lift Central to a 30-21 win in junior varsity play. Michael Lunsford led the 'Landers with 10.
   Cloudland 44
   Central 14
   Cloudland's Heather Banner stripped the nets for 10 points and the Lady Junior Highlanders held Central to single digits in each quarter.
   Natasha Miller pitched in nine points for the Roan Mountain squad, which got eight more from Whitney Houston. Heather Simpson was tops for the Lady Comets with four.
   In JV action, Cloudland erased a four-point halftime deficit to collect a 21-15 decision. Mathes paved the way for the winners with seven points, while Campbell topped the Lady Comets with eight.
   Little Milligan 45
   Central 28
   Knowing the championship was on the line, the Lady Buffaloes came out with a lot of intensity and outscored Central 31-2 in the opening half. Little Milligan never looked back in wrapping up the small schools' conference title.
   Lady Buffs coach David Cable got 17 points from Danielle Gilbert and 11 more from Jessica Price. Pam Montgomery chipped in seven points.
   Central was topped by Cassie Obsorne's eight. Tia Hughes added seven for the night.