Rangers collect two wins over University High

By Tim Chambers

   The temperatures were frigid outside Saturday night on Stoney Creek, but inside Snavley gymnasium, a heated rivalry was taking place. With 24 second-half points from Rusty Chambers, the Rangers raced to a 83-60 Watauga Valley Conference victory to remain undefeated in league play at 3-0.
   Unaka jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind a putback by Josh Jones and a three-point basket from Cody Collins. David Chen and Ryan Collins connected for back-to-back buckets to cut the margin to 5-4 at the 6:40 mark. Baskets by Jones and Chambers pushed the lead to 9-4 as Unaka took advantage of two University High turnovers.
   Josh Lowe added a deuce from the wing and Derek Cline would dazzle the crowd with six consecutive points to stake the Rangers to a 19-12 first-quarter lead.
   Unaka continued to pad their lead in the second period on a runner by Chambers and a jumper from Lowe. Jones dominated the offensive glass with four points on putback. Lowe's long three and a drive by Cline at the buzzer helped the Rangers take a 34-25 lead going into the locker room at intermission. Jones, Cline and Lowe would account for 23 points to lead the Ranger offense.
   Unaka came out on fire in the third period behind the torrid offensive shooting of Chambers. After sitting over six minutes in the second period with two fouls, Chambers delighted the Ranger faithful with some offensive fireworks.
   Two baskets from Chambers pushed the lead to 38-27 followed by a three-point bomb from Collins to up the margin to 41-27, with just one minute gone in the third quarter. A steal and basket by Chambers, followed by a soft jump hook from Rusty Holtsclaw, pushed the margin to 47-32 with 4:20 remaining.
   Unaka continued their defensive pressure, causing back-to-back turnovers which Cline and Lowe converted to give the Rangers a 53-34 cushion with 1:50 remaining. Chambers' three-point play near the end of the period gave the Rangers a 58-40 lead after three.
   Unaka turned up the defense at the start of the fourth quarter, forcing the Jr. Bucs to take some off-balance shots while Unaka continued to shoot well in the fourth frame.
   Chambers reeled off nine consecutive points within a three-minute span, while Cline continued his excellent play with a bucket and four assists in the period.
   Chase Reeves stepped up with five points in the fourth stanza as Coach Ensor unloaded the bench for the final three minutes of the game. Adam Buckles' jumper with .20 seconds remaining provided the final margin.
   Chambers had a game-high 28 to lead the Rangers while Cline tossed in 14 and Jones added ten. Collins gathered five steals to aid the Ranger defense. Holtsclaw and Jones gathered seven rebounds, while Chambers added six rebounds and seven assist to aid the win.
   Morgan Woodacre topped the Jr. Bucs with nine points, while John Tillman and David Chen followed with eight.
   "Rusty stepped up big in the second half," stated head coach Donald Ensor. "Our defense was not where we want it to be. We made too many mistakes, which allowed them to get open looks throughout the game."
   Cline added, "We got to do a better job with our defensive pressure." Lowe added nine points off the bench. "I just wanted to contribute," said Lowe. "I tried to help our team."
   "We got to play the entire game," added Chambers. "We're just now getting into the meat of our schedule."
   Unaka plays host to North Greene Tuesday night in an important Watauga Valley Conference contest.
   Unaka 61
   University High 46
   After a lackluster first period, the Lady Rangers exploded for 39 points during the second and third periods to upend University High 61-46 in a Watauga Valley Conference showdown.
   Both teams had trouble finding the mark in the first period until Renee Ensor broke the ice with a layup at the 6:05 mark. After a nice runner by Jo Thomas and two more from Diana Bowers, the Lady Jr. Bucs tied the score at four. The Ranger offense started to gell behind four points each from Lacey Gouge and Julie Roberson to claim a 12-6 advantage after one period of play.
   The Rangers got hotter than a two dollar pistol in the second period behind the offensive shooting of birthday girl Coty Townsend and the inside post play of Roberson.
   Two field goals from Roberson help the Rangers to a 25-10 advantage, followed by a downtown three from Jessica Osborne. Townsend aided the offense with a jumper from the corner and a long-range three to push the margin at 32-13 with .19 remaining. Renee Ensor's steal and layup at the buzzer gave Unaka a 34-13 halftime advantage.
   Unaka continued to force the Bucs into numerous turnovers in the third period with some full-court pressure defense. Meanwhile the offense continued to click behind the three-point shooting of Gouge and some nice inside play from Danielle Ensor. A Roberson jumper and a nice putback from Tiffany Babb gave the Rangers a 53-25 lead going into the final frame.
   Reserves would play the entire fourth period as Unaka had trouble mustering any offense while the Jr. Bucs accounted for 21 fourth-quarter points. After sitting out most of the game in foul trouble, Katie Crowe would account for nine points in the period to help close the final margin.
   Roberson paved the way with 14 to lead the Rangers while Ensor and Gouge added ten. Townsend had a nice evening with nine points and eight rebounds.
   Bowers tallied 14 to lead the Bucs while Crowe tossed in nine, all in the fourth quarter.
   "We played well for three quarters," stated Ranger head coach Kenneth Chambers. "Our defense was good and we rebounded well." "We got too relaxed in the fourth quarter with our reserves. I am pleased with the win."
   Gouge added, "Our post players played really well. They were able to score some and kick it out to the wings for open shots. We've just got to play the entire game and not get relaxed when we have a big lead."
   The Rangers will seek revenge at home Tuesday night in a rematch against North Greene.