Indians sunk by Dugger's 41

By Ivan Sanders

HARROGATE -- In Old West sagas, the Texas Rangers always seemed to make prisoners of Indians on the warpath. The Unaka Rangers applied the same justice to the Powell Valley Indians on Monday.
   Behind a 41-point outburst by Aaron Dugger, the number one seeded Unaka Rangers sent the Powell Valley Indians packing by taking a 71-56 win in the Region 1-A tournament at Tex Turner Arena at Lincoln Memorial University.
   Even with Dugger pumping in 20 first-half points, the half was a sub-par Unaka performance by head coach Donald Ensor's assessment.
   "There are no excuses for playing like we did in the first half," said Ensor. "This is a regional game and you have to come ready to play every single night."
   Ensor was referring to the Rangers' lack of focus in the first half as they missed numerous plays called by the Ranger bench.
   The Indians' seeding could have been deceiving to the Rangers. Powell Valley came in seeded fourth by virtue of an upset in the district tournament, but were the second-place team during the season conference race.
   Unaka led the entire contest, taking a 17-7 lead after one period of play. The Indians scrapped back into the contest in the second quarter by outhustling the Rangers on the boards, and by using back-door cuts for easy buckets.
   Cory Russell and Adam Gibson came up big for the Indians by hitting timely buckets as Unaka tried to extend its lead. Russell finished the night with 18 and Gibson collected 13 for the Indians.
   Rusty Chambers came off the bench and collected some much-needed rebounds while adding four points in the half. Dustin Collins, meanwhile, nailed a trey to keep the Rangers in front 31-27 at the intermission.
   "We felt like we could match up with them size-wise," stated Dugger. "They shot the ball really well in the first half, but they finally just went into a funk in the second half."
   The Rangers, on the other hand, came out a different looking team in the second stanza. The defensive pressure placed on the Indians simply took the life out of Powell Valley, while the offense starting clicking for Unaka.
   "We came out in the second half and our defense was much better, and we finally ran our offense," said Ensor. "We really didn't change anything, our intensity just picked up."
   Unaka doubled its lead to eight points by the end of the third quarter, 46-38. Dugger had his point total to 29, while teammate Ben Cole found his touch by hitting a couple of beautiful drives to the glass.
   The fourth-and-decisive period belonged to the Rangers as they outscored the Indians 25-18, with several of Unaka's points coming by way of the charity stripe. Cole hit six of eight on the night from the line, while Dugger picked up 13 points from the line on 15 attempts.
   Unaka dominated the glass, swiping 27 rebounds on the night to 15 for Powell Valley. Chambers and Dugger each nabbed nine and Cole added six.
   Besides Dugger's 41, Cole finished the night with 10, Chambers added 9, and Dustin Collins netted five. Cody Collins contributed with four while the Josh's -- Blevins and Jones-- tallied one each.
   The Rangers will be back in action on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of the Jellico/University School being played today.