Lady Rangers pull out win in four overtimes

By Tim Chambers
HARRIMAN -- If a Ranger had nine lives, Unaka used almost all of them Saturday night at Harriman High School. With sure heart, grit and determination, the Lady Rangers fought their way to a 63-58 win in four overtimes over the Harriman Blue Devils.
Unaka led 5-4 on a bucket by Julie Roberson and a long three from Coty Townsend. Jessica Osborne's three with 15 seconds remaining gave Unaka on a 8-6 lead after one.
Harriman fought hard in the second quarter behind six points from Ashley Fuqua. Meanwhile, Unaka built a 24-15 halftime advantage thanks to 5-4 junior Kelly Allen, who tallied five points in the quarter.
Allen provided a three along with an off-balanced putback to up Unaka's lead at 23-12. Roberson's putback at the 3:00 mark put Unaka up 24-15.
The Rangers went ice cold in the third quarter going over six minutes without a field goal. A field goal by Roberson would account for Unaka's only points in the quarter.
Harriman took the lead early in the fourth quarter at 27-26, but Danielle Ensor's free throws put Unaka back in front 28-27 with six minutes remaining.
The lead swung back and forth until Townsend's three from the corner gave Unaka a 31-29 lead with four minutes remaining.
Osborne's downtown three vaulted the lead back to five at 34-29.
Harriman fought back behind a three from Brittany Webb to cut the deficit at 36-34. After Renee Ensor's free throw with 14 seconds remaining, the Blue Devils tied the score on a desperation three from Ashton Pollitt forcing the game into overtime at 37-all.
Tiara Eskridge's three from deep in the corner gave Harriman a 40-37 lead with two minutes remaining in overtime. Roberson hit 1-of-2 free throws cutting the lead to 40-38 with 1:43 left on the clock. Webb and Osborne then traded foul shots.
Unaka trailed by three with six seconds left when Jessica Osborne nailed a 30-footer at the buzzer to send the game into a second overtime.
Townsend put the Rangers up 46-43 with another trey. Fuqua's off balanced deuce followed a 3-point play from Brittany Swicegard, put Harriman ahead 50-46.
Osborne struck again with a bomb followed by Renee Ensor's three to tie the score at 52-52 forcing yet another overtime.
Harriman drew first blood in the third quarter but a steal and lay-up by Renee Ensor tied the score at 54. Harriman took a 57-54 advantage until Julie Roberson's lay-in with one minute left cut the lead to 57-56.
Danielle Ensor converted 1-of-2 from the foul line to tie the score with 24 seconds remaining in the third overtime.
A Harriman miss at the buzzer forced a fourth overtime.
The Rangers took a 58-57 lead on a free throw by Danielle Ensor. Harriman tied the score again, but free throws by Townsend and Osborne put Unaka up 60-58 with :50 remaining.
Lacey Gouge nailed the coffin shut with two free throws to give Unaka a remarkable comeback win.
"Our kids played hard," said Ranger coach Kenneth Chambers. "I am proud of them."
Harriman 53
Unaka 49
Closing out a tight-fisted affair, Unaka went cold over the final 1:45, scoring just one point, while Harriman nailed key foul shots to snag the win.
A pair of free throws by Rusty Chambers had given the Rangers a 47-46 lead -- their first of the fourth quarter -- before the Blue Devils pulled the chestnuts from the fire.
The opening quarter set the tone for what kind of game this would be. The Rangers grabbed an early 6-5 edge on buckets from Chambers, Josh Jones and Derek Cline, and a Jones putback had Unaka up by a score of 9-8.
Five straight points by Chambers and a Cody Collins bucket gave Unaka a 16-13 advantage late in the quarter, then a Curtis Thomas putback got Harriman back within one.
The Rangers fell behind by three points in the second quarter, only to seize the halftime lead (28-27) on a Chambers jumper five seconds prior to the break. Chambers' deuce followed up Unaka buckets from Jones and Tyler McCann.
A Rusty Holtsclaw putback gave Unaka a three-point edge (38-35) in the third quarter, but the Devils answered with a 8-0 run capped by a Patrick Davis 3-pointer.
Unaka fought back to forge a 43-43 tie on a pair of Cline charity tosses.
Jones was high man for the Rangers, netting 16 points, while Chambers tallied 12.
Harriman got a game-high 18 from Thomas.