Rangers outlast 'Dogs

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Unaka Rangers came away with a big win over Hampton on Monday night in a game that wasn't decided until overtime, with the Rangers taking a 79-70 final at VanHuss-White Gymnasium.
   Unaka trailed most of the way, but in the end it was able to outlast the 'Dogs by utilizing Josh Jones inside and Daniel McInturff from the perimeter.
   "We had a chance to hang our heads, but we didn't, and we came back out in the second half playing with more intensity," said Unaka coach Donald Ensor.
   Hampton jumped out to a 13-5 lead in the first period with a couple of buckets from Adam Miller and a three-pointer from Josh Moss.
   The Rangers had trouble scoring in the first, as a field goal by Rusty Chambers and a basket plus a free-throw from McInturff representing their only scores.
   "Early we couldn't get a shot to go, and our free-throw shooting was just horrendous," said Ensor.
   Hampton continued to hold onto its lead throughout the second quarter, but a late rally from Unaka closed the contest to 28-26 with a three-point shot coming McInturff at the buzzer.
   The 'Dogs looked like they were on their way to a victory to start the second half by going on a 10-4 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
   Miller nailed two three-point shots, and an offensive rebound and basket from Michael McCall put the Hampton up by eight points.
   Mistakes plagued the 'Dogs in the back-court in the next few possessions, as they saw their lead diminish in the next two minutes.
   "'We can't stand success' is the best way to put it," said Hampton coach Bud Hazelwood. "It was 38-30 for five or six possessions, and we were playing good defense but doing nothing offensively."
   Chambers stepped up for the Rangers by converting a basket off a Hampton turnover, and connecting on four shots from the free-throw line.
   A three from Chambers with 1:50 left in the third gave the Rangers a long-awaited lead, but it was premature, as Michael Morton drew a foul to sink a couple of free throws.
   McInturff was able to find the magic once again to end the third quarter by knocking down the three with four seconds left to tie the contest at 46-46.
   "My team got me open for I was coming off of screens the whole game," said McInturff.
   The score flipped-flopped throughout the fourth period, as neither team was able to take control.
   Hampton trailed by four points halfway through, but a three from Miller and Moss put the 'Dogs back up by two heading down the stretch.
   A big loss for Hampton came at the 3:13 mark, as Miller committed his last foul of the game finishing with 16 points.
   The game ended up going into overtime after Cody Collins missed on an eight-foot jumper with Unaka playing for the final shot.
   The Rangers gained the advantage in overtime, when McInturff knocked down his fourth three-point goal of the night with 2:04 left, as he finished with 23 points on the night.
   "This is a big win for us, and I hope it brings us through our up and down struggles we've been having," said McInturff.
   Despite a couple of threes from Morton, Hampton was unable to reassume the lead, as Josh Jones came up big for the Rangers by scoring 10 of his 18 points in overtime.
   "I thought we didn't play hard enough or smart enough to win the game, and they realize we have lapses where we can't do nothing," said Hazelwood.
   Lady Bulldogs 50
   Lady Rangers 42
   The Hampton Lady Bulldogs kept the ball rolling with their second consecutive win on the season by defeating Unaka by a 50-42 final.
   "We're showing signs of improvement, and I think getting the win under our belt Friday night has helped a lot," said Lady Bulldog coach Leslie Campbell.
   The 'Dogs were able to overcome a 20-19 deficit at halftime to grab the victory and restore some confidence with their recent success.
   "I think they're realizing what it takes to win and hopefully they are starting to get use to it by now," Campbell said. "They did everything I asked them to do, and we talked before the game about being mentally tough and throwing you're heart out there on the floor."