Central upset unbeaten Unaka for district title

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   The Central Comets came into Thursday's district championship game with a seemingly insurmountable task ahead of them: Defeat the undefeated Unaka Rangers and do so at their home floor.
   The Comets were up for the task and then some, delivering a 46-45 win in one of the best basketball games in the county this season.
   The Rangers got off to a slow start in the first quarter and allowed the underdog Comets to gather momentum early. On the strength of a solid first period by Josh Moore the Comets held a 9-5 lead heading into the second quarter.
   Both teams would pick up the pace in the second frame, as the transition game began to produce points for each team. Central managed to hold the lead for the majority of the period despite increased effort by the Rangers.
   A strong performance on the glass by Caleb Johnson, helped pace the Comets struggling offense, while the Rangers continued to close in on the lead.
   Comet skipper Lamont Barnett was pleased with the play of his 7th grade post man, "He has done a fantastic job for us on the boards," Barnett said. "We work on rebounding alot and he came through for us."
   Despite tough work inside, the Rangers' Brandon Roper would drop in 10 points in the period including a jumper in the final seconds of the half to give Unaka a slim 20-19 lead heading into halftime.
   The third quarter would bring new life for the Comets as they came out of the locker room with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Central's Jordan Lewis would sink 10 points in the stanza to put his team back into lead.
   Outscoring the Rangers 17-8 in the third, the Comets appeared to be rolling downhill towards an upset win, but Unaka would hold one last ace, and the comeback bid they displayed was nothing short of remarkable.
   Trailing by 8 at the start of the period, Unaka would close the lead to 5 with 4:35 remaining in the game. The Rangers would continue working and with just over three minutes to go Andrew Taylor came off the bench to hit a big three pointer. The bucket tied the contest, and set the stage for a seesaw battle down the stretch.
   Nick Sanders would come up with a defensive gem on the following series for Central. His block kickstarted a transition break and gave the lead back to the Comets.
   Andrew Church would hit a field goal and bring the contest back even, for the next 1:30 both teams would trade baskets. The contest seemed almost destined for extra time.
   With just under a minute to go Matt Moore would give the Comets the lead with a jumpshot inside the key, that lead would withstand three Unaka possessions and a pair of Ranger foul shots to deliver a 1 point victory and some Championship hardware for the Comets.
   After the contest, coach Mark Revis was proud of his team and the effort they displayed, "We fought back, they didn't quit," Revis said. "We have to correct our mistakes, and stop turning the ball over."
   Barnett would later exclaim that the victory was, "the greatest win since I began coaching."
   "The kids told me that this win was my Birthday present, and I'm so proud of the way they played."
   Happy Birthday indeed...