Keenburg nabs comeback victory vs. Fall Branch

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Keenburg Tigers led a charge of Carter County teams in the 'A-division' of the Quad County Middle Regional Tournament at Happy Valley High School last night with a comeback 56-43 victory over the Fall Branch Cardinals.
   Central and Unaka both had sweeping victories over Range and University School respectively, while Little Milligan lost a heartbreaker to the South Central Wildcats.
   Fall Branch opened its contest with Keenburg on a hot run behind Keith Mannering and Andy Stacy. Justin Palmer and Josh Hardin helped the Tigers overcome an eight-point deficit early, closing in on a 12-9 lead after the first quarter.
   Ben Franklin led the Cardinals to a solid advantage in the second period before Cody Marley brought the house down with a pair of back-to-back treys to take a three-point lead for the Tigers going into the second half.
   The Cardinals bounced back with nine of a team-leading 15 points from Adam Venters despite a solid showing from Daniel Gardner of Keenburg to tie the contest down the wire.
   Fall Branch had to rely on Dustin Ford, but Gardner and Josh Moore would be too much for the Tigers as they wound up a soild victory.
   Moore tallied 13 points for the Tigers while teammate Cody Marley netted 12. Mannering added 10 for the Cardinals.
   The Little Milligan Buffaloes were held scoreless in the first period but never gave up in a loss to the South Central Wildcats.
   South Central got big buckets from Corey Ottinger and Adam Curtis early with an 8-0 lead over the Buffaloes. However, Travis Gregg and Dan Campbell would drive Little Milligan back.
   Gregg's 21-points pushed the Buffaloes within five points during the fouth quarter, but James Morrow and company would be too much.
   Ottinger and Curtis had ten a piece for the Wildcats, while Campbell and Gregory Sams chipped in points for Little Milligan.
   RANGE 18
   The Central Comets used a first quarter 18-2 advantage to carry them in a big victory over the Range Rebels in early action at Bayless Gymnasium.
   Jared Cline had all eight of his points in the quarter, while Matt Moore and Cain McWalters came up big defensively.
   Jordan Lewis paced the Comets with a game-high 17 points in the contest, including a trio of three-point buckets. Adam Kiser and Damon Brankey led the Rebels with six and four points, respectively.
   UNAKA 73
   From the opening tip of the contest to the final buzzer, the Unaka Rangers sank the ship of the University School Junior Bucs in dominating fashion.
   Andrew Church and Brandon Roper both had 18 points in a game where defense was the key to a victory. Roper had nine of his points in the first quarter, while Church was more spread out.
   A big key to Unaka's victory was the play of sixth-grader Jeff Peters, who came up big in two quarters of playing time with 15 points.
   "They played hard," said Ranger coach Mark Revis. "They came out ready. We've got to have a good practice tomorrow and come out like this on Wednesday.
   "It was good to play all of the boys out there today and get them some time."
   Andrew Scott led the Bucs with six.
   Tournament action continues tomorrow evening at Bayless Gymnasium.