Comets take measure of Keenburg

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Central Comets' season almost blew up.
   Taking a strong advantage early in their contest with the Keenburg Tigers, Central paced itself for a rising victory. However, the Tigers struck right back to take the lead out of the Comets' hands.
   Central came out in the second half with a blazing fury, holding Keenburg to one-point in the third quarter en route to a 47-28 victory at Bayless Gymnasium.
   The Comets got solid offense early from Matt Moore and Jordan Lewis to take a five-point lead after the first quarter. Keenburg struck back behind Cody Marley and Daniel Gardner with a rallied troop taking a solid lead.
   Keenburg got a free throw to open the third quarter from Josh Moore, but that would be all the offense the Comets would allow in the period.
   Jared Cline and Daniel Johnson made some key plays defensively as Central took a 10-1 advantage at that point in the game, taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
   Gardner and Marley tried to secure one final rally for the Tigers, but Central's Josh and Matt Moore would be too much, taking the solid victory for the Comets.
   Lewis and Matt Moore paced the Comets with 16 and 14 points respectively, while Gardner tallied 11 for the Tigers.
   Central will advance to a rematch with the Unaka Rangers, who they defeated in the district finals, on Saturday for the Division A Regional crown.
   Unaka was also solid later on with their big 50-35 victory over the South Central Wildcats.
   Brandon Roper and Jeff Peters were the shining spots for the Rangers, who led South Central by as much as 22 in the contest.
   The Wildcats rallied back in the fourth quarter behind Jared Painter and Thomas Dearstone to cut the margin into eight but it wouldn't be enough.
   The contest was a close affair at the beginning, as Roper led Unaka to a 9-5 lead. The Rangers dominated in the second period with a 17-4 margin in their favor.
   Peters and Andrew Church came up with some big buckets for Unaka, who held South Central to four free throws from Adam Curtis.
   Matt Broyles and three big treys from Corey Ottinger showed signs of a Wildcat rally in the third quarter, leading to the big comeback attempt.
   Peters and Roper silenced the crew, as Joey Sheets and Robbie Huskins secured a win for Unaka.
   Roper had 19 for the Rangers, while Peters tallied 13. South Central had three players with nine a piece.

   The Little Milligan Lady Buffaloes were in for a war, but did what they had to do in order to advance one step towards a region championship in their 31-21 victory over the University School Lady Bucs.
   Megan Holtsclaw and Maggie White paced the Lady Buffaloes early in the contest, leading Little Milligan to a strong 13-6 advantage at the half.
   Little Milligan's defense came on strong in the third quarter, making big plays to set up Andrea Tinsman and Jessica Allen offensively.
   Cassandra Augsburger and Brooke Conley fought tough for University School as they outscored Little Milligan in a tight fourth period. However, it wouldn't be enough as the Lady Buffaloes advanced towards Saturday's title game.
   Holtsclaw had a game high 16 points for Little Milligan, while Conley dropped 9 for University School.
   UNAKA 30

   The Unaka Lady Rangers started off slow and finished with a bang.
   Trailing by 14 going into the fourth quarter, Unaka didn't show many signs of fighting for victory.
   But they defied all odds with a huge comeback, tying the game before the officiating sided with South Central in the Lady Cats' 34-30 victory.
   Amber Burgner and Krystal McMillan opened up on Unaka early with solid shooting performances. Emily Broyles, Jessica Brown, and Brooke Fender did what they had to do to hold the Lady Rangers down with a ten-point lead going into the second half.
   Jaclyn Campbell and Stephanie Keranan throttled the Lady Wildcats with some tough shots in their favor late in the game. Angela Vaughn and Tara Potter provided good defense for Unaka as they made a valliant effort.
   Campbell led all scorers with 16 points, while McMillan and Burgner had 15 and 10 a piece for the South Central ladies.
   South Central and Little Milligan will open regional action on Saturday with their opening Division A girls final.