Rangers get past Patriots

By Chad Booth

STAR CORRESPONDENT

   BLUFF CITY -- The Unaka Rangers were at their best when they needed to be, getting the job done the last half of the fourth quarter for a 79-70 victory over upset-minded Sullivan East Friday night.
   Sullivan East (5-18) started out strong Friday night against Unaka, striking first and going on an 8-0 run before Unaka was able to put any points on the board.
   Unaka (17-9), which got a 30-point performance from Aaron Dugger, stuck primarily to outside shooting but had trouble finding the bottom of the net.
   "They were playing the zone and anytime a team does that we try to get in the gaps," said Donald Ensor, Unaka head coach. "I don't think we did a very good job of that early on."
   Unaka managed to keep the game close, though, by hitting two consecutive 3-pointers.
   Offensive rebounds played a key role for both teams since most of their points came off follow-up shots.
   East extended its lead once again but Unaka came back with a 10-2 scoring drive to tie the game 26-26 in the second quarter. The uneven seesaw battle continued as East would pull ahead only to have Unaka come back to threaten their lead. Sullivan East took a 37-34 lead to the locker room at the half.
   "The first half we didn't rebound the ball well and we didn't defend," said Ensor. "We didn't seem like we were ready to play ball."
   East tried to pull away once again in the third quarter going on a 7-0 scoring drive but Unaka refused to let the game get out of reach and sparked a rally to pull them within five points at the end of the quarter.
   Cody Collins opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to bring the Unaka team within two. Ron Cole tied the game at 59-59 with two free throws. Unaka then stole the ball and took the lead for the first time all night.
   East was reluctant to let them hold the lead for long and recaptured the lead after a foul was compounded with a technical on Dustin Collins. East pulled ahead by three but Cody Collins knocked down another three-pointer to tie the game again at 64-64.
   Fouls cost East their lead as John Schultz picked up his fourth with 3:37 left to play. This put Unaka ahead for the rest of the game.
   Unaka capitalized and extended its lead to 70-66 with a 3-pointer from Dustin Collins.
   "We got freed up," said Ensor. "Dustin [Collins], Cody [Collins] and even Aaron [Dugger] found some open looks and knocked them down."
   With 1:10 to go, Aaron Burnette fouled Dustin Collins, who knocked down one of his two free throws giving Unaka a five-point lead.
   East scored on the other end and drew a charge from Unaka's Ronnie Booher on the inbounds pass.
   East's Adam Hughes missed his three-point attempt to tie the game but quickly fouled Dugger to stop the clock. Dugger knocked down both free throws, extending the Unaka lead to 73-68.
   East was only able to muster two more points while Unaka picked up six at the foul line, ending the game at 79-70.
   Dustin Collins turned in a productive showing for the Rangers, scoring 20, while Cody Collins was a solid contributor with 11.
   John Schultz and Adam Hughes were tops for the Patriots, scoring 24 and 22, respectively. Seth Hayes chipped in 10.
   Lady Patriots 77
   Lady Rangers 41
   Unaka traveled to Sullivan East Friday night only to suffer a 77-41 rout at the hands of the Lady Patriots.
   East (13-9) dominated the game with its size, outrebounding Unaka and forcing the ball into the paint, where the Pats were most effective.
   Unaka (4-16) was hindered by fouls, picking up seven in the first quarter alone.
   Despite being down 43-14 at the break, Unaka showed surprising spirit by trying to battle back in the second half. The 29-point deficit proved to be too much, though, as East powered its way to another victory.
   Katie O'Dell was tops for East with 23 points, followed by Lori Fleenor with 13 and Amber Etter with 11.
   Julie Roberson led the way for the Lady Rangers, netting 12 points. Danielle Ensor and Renee Ensor totaled eight points each.