Rangers rally past Patriots

By Tim Chambers
STAR Correspondent

   BLUFF CITY -- With :09 to go in the game, the crowd noise was deafening as Hunter Crowder had just knocked down at 25-foot trey to tie the game at 47.
   Electing not to call timeout, Unaka's Rusty Chambers grabbed the inbounds pass and sliced through three defenders before tossing a no-look pass to Josh Jones for a wide open layup, giving Unaka a hard-fought 49-47 win at the Patriot Palace.
   "I wanted the ball at the end of the game," said Chambers. "I thought I had a layup but Josh's man switched off, so I dished him the ball. He did a great job at sticking it in the hole."
   Added Jones: "Coach had been on me and Rusty the whole game about stepping up so it was great to end it like this. Rusty threw a beautiful pass and we were glad to leave here with a win."
   Unaka tied the game in the first on a runner by Cody Collins but East answered with two buckets from Crowder and Dusty Craig to lead 6-2. A baseline jumper by Chambers, followed by a putback from Jones, tied the score at six.
   Wes Peer's three-point play gave East a 9-8 lead before Jones two free throws cut the margin at 9-8 ending the first period.
   Unaka jumped in front 14-10 to start the second on three buckets from Jones, Mike Walsh and Tyler McCann. Peer's trey cut the lead to one, but two free throws from Chambers and a deuce by Rusty Holtsclaw pushed the margin back to 18-14.
   Chambers baseline jumper at :27 to go before the intermission gave the Rangers a 20-16 lead at the half.
   The Patriots continued to run their patient Princeton-like offense in third period going on a 9-0 run to lead 25-20. Jones answered with his second putback of the game off a missed shot to pull Unaka within three at 25-22.
   After a hoop by Craig, Unaka's McCann nailed a trey from the right wing cutting the lead to 27-25. Jones tied the score but consecutive threes from Donavan Dye and Jimbo Jones up the East lead to six at 33-27.
   Back came the Rangers with Jones tossing in a deuce to slice the lead at four. Unaka got the ball back in the closing seconds and Chambers made them pay, nailing a 30-foot bomb off the right wing to trim the Patriot lead to one to start the fourth period.
   Unaka went on a 6-0 run beginning the fourth getting hoops from McCann, and a nice spinmove by Holtsclaw. A nifty full court pass from Collins to Josh Lowe resulted in a three-point play giving Unaka a 39-35 lead.
   East trimmed the lead to two but a left-handed hook shot from Chambers pushed the lead back at 41-37. Crowder's trey cut the lead to 41-40 before Jones' two free throws pushed the lead back to 43-40.
   East took a 44-43 lead on a bucket from Leonard and a jumper by Craig, but Unaka refused to fold with Collins driving for a floater to put the Rangers up at 45-44 with 1:02 remaining.
   After an East turnover Unaka regained possession and the Patriots elected to foul Chambers at the :27 mark. Chambers hit 2-of-2, setting up the stage for the tying three and the game-winning bucket.
   Jones led all scorers with 16 followed by Chambers with 13. Chambers gathered 11 rebounds for the Rangers while Jones added nine to the cause.
   Peer had 14 to lead the Patriots while Craig chipped in with 13.
   "This is a tough place to play and East shot well," said Unaka coach Donald Ensor. "I thought that Chase, Mike and Tyler stepped up and played very good tonight.
   "We tried to adjust without Derek (Cline) and I thought we played hard on defense. Our seniors (Chambers and Jones) did the job there at the end."
   Cline missed the game due to a fracture on his shooting hand.