Shooting boosts Lady Rangers over HV

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   Kelly and Heather Taylor combined for seven of Unaka's 10 baskets behind the three-point line, leading the Lady Rangers to a 71-64 win over Happy Valley Friday night at Bayless Gym.
   The twins each hit double figures, Kelly with a team high 18 points after hitting four treys and Heather with 11. With Julie Roberson scoring 13 points on the inside and point guard Renee Ensor adding another 11, the Unaka offense was hard to stop.
   "I haven't been starting both of them," said winning coach Kenneth Chambers about the Taylor twins. "I have the last two games and they have played pretty well together. They shot the ball well and the Roberson girl was playing tough inside. They had to respect her on the inside. They left them open on the outside.
   "The twins did a great job scoring, but it was a team effort. We're shooting the ball pretty good right now. I was disappointed that we didn't play that good defensively. It's our third game this week and there was no excuse for that. We stood flat-footed and watched them shoot a bunch of lay-ups."
   The game was an old-fashioned barnburner most of the contest with the Lady Warriors leading 16-15 at the end of one quarter and clinging to a 29-28 lead at the half. They would have been up by four, but Kate Powell's three-point shot was released just after the buzzer sounded.
   Ironically the same thing happened again at the end of the next quarter.
   Down 45-43, Kortney Goulds' attempt that would have given HV the lead also was a tick late. In the fourth quarter, a free throw by Jordan Muratore and a trey by Kelly Taylor pushed the Unaka lead out to ten. The Lady Warriors tried in vain to foul, but Unaka held them off sinking nine free throws over the final three minutes.
   "We didn't play bad," remarked HV head coach Ben Godsey. "You just have to give credit to Unaka. They shot the ball well from the outside. It was a different game than it was last night. We played hard for four quarters. We didn't necessarily play well in spots, but we scored effectively against their matchup zone. The problem was they shot the three and made several. That was the difference in the basketball game."
   As Godsey stated, Happy Valley (11-12) put forth a valiant effort, they were just beat by a better offensive team on this particular night. Besides the aforementioned players, Jessica Osborne scored eight including two shots of her own behind the three-point arc. Danielle Ensor had six points and Coty Townsend three in the Lady Ranger victory.
   For the Lady Warriors, Brandi Dugger was the leading lady scoring a game-high 23 points and going a perfect eight of eight at the charity stripe.
   Kate Powell and Terra Whaley also hit double figures with 10 points apiece. Whitney Crowe scored seven and the team's lone senior Crystal Nave added six.
   The offensive firepower of Unaka made quite an impression on HV's coach.
   "They are the best shooting team we have faced all year," said Godsey. "They have the tall girl in the middle (Roberson) and you have to worry about her. When you give help on her, they kick it back out and get open looks. Offensively, you have to give them a lot of credit. They can shoot the ball and down the stretch, when we tried to foul them to get back in the game, they made their free throws.
   "On our team, Brandi did a good job tonight. She penetrated and she was dishing when the defense cycled over. She spotted the open person and Kate came on for us. They are both sophomores and still learning to play. Sometimes, we forget they are still sophomores. Terra also did a good job driving to the hole. There was just too much offense from Unaka."
   Happy Valley will try to get back on track Monday, when they face Johnson County. The Lady Rangers, now 19-6 on the season, hope to continue their winning ways on Monday, as they host Sullivan Central.
   NOTE: After the game, former HV boys basketball player Garth McKinney, who is currently in the Detroit Tiger organization, was honored as the outstanding collegiate baseball player in the state of Tennessee for 2002. McKinney was the leading batter on the team in leading his Walters State club up to a No. 2 national ranking among junior colleges last season.