Rangers see 12-point lead vanish in loss to Warriors

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was deja vu all over again for the Unaka Rangers.
   After trailing by as much as 12 points, the Happy Valley Warriors held the Rangers to seven points in the third quarter, just like earlier in the season.
   Happy Valley took off with a 26-7 run, leading the Tribe to a 76-63 victory at Snavely Gym.
   The Warriors led by as much as 24 in the final frame before the Rangers made a late effort behind some substitutions to close the gap.
   For the Rangers, it was disappointing finish to a game which they controlled for a period of time.
   "We were not a team on a mission tonight," said Unaka coach Donald Ensor. "We played well for a half, but we were not good at taking minor adjustments and applying them. We haven't finished a game in I don't know how long."
   The Warriors were without coach Charlie Bayless, who missed the game because of illness, but played inspired in the second half to win.
   "Defense and rebounds helped us," said Happy Valley coach Richard Renfro, who filled in for Bayless with Chuck Babb. "They missed some big shots and their big shooters missed. If we can run with it, we can do pretty good -- and we did tonight."
   Happy Valley had only four defensive boards in the first half, and ended up with 17 in the second.
   "Coach Babb and I talked about running a two-defense, and it slowed them down," Renfro said. "We wanted to play our halfcourt game."
   It worked and the Warriors got more buckets out of it.
   The unit had four players with double digits led by Tim Whaley's 26-point effort.
   "I think we're playing good enough to win the district," said Whaley, who tallied eight points in the first and 13 in the third quarter.
   "We came in and Renfro and Babb told us to get on the boards," he said. "We did what we needed to do. It was a big accomplishment. Babb and Renfro stepped up for us tonight and we hope Coach Bayless gets better."
   When Whaley wasn't there, Alex Carroll was for Happy Valley.
   "We know whenever me and Tim's in, we don't back down and we look for each other," said Carroll, who finished with 15 points, seven blocks, and a one-handed alley-oop slam.
   "It's a big win. (The CoachT.com website) said that 'we didn't play as hard of a conference or schedule as Unaka did and that they would wear us out.' We wanted to prove it wrong."
   Unaka took a 17-14 lead after the first quarter behind big shooting from Rusty Chambers and Cody Collins.
   Chambers and Rusty Holtsclaw helped push the game up to 12 before an intentional foul on Carroll set up the Warriors with some big buckets to trail by seven going into the locker room.
   Holtsclaw was the only Ranger to score in the third, while John Bulla and Chris Rutledge helped Whaley make it a 12-point game going into the fourth.
   The Tribe continued with buckets from Todd Caldwell and Carroll to make it a 24-point game before a pair of treys from Tee Blevins and four points from Mike Walsh trimmed down the Warrior edge before the final horn.
   Chambers led Unaka with 16, 14 of which came in the first half. Holtsclaw finished with 13 for the Ranger unit.
   "It's a great opportunity to test our skills against a good team and see where we're at," said Ensor. "We're conceding to our opponents and I hope I'm wrong. We're not executing in crucial situations."
   "We hated to see that Charlie wasn't there tonight and I hope his health is better," he added. "I missed talking to him tonight."
   Caldwell and Bulla finished with 10 apiece for the Warriors.
   Lady Rangers 47
   Lady Warriors 40
   A late charge wasn't enough for the Happy Valley Lady Warriors.
   After trailing by eight going into the fourth quarter, the Lady Warriors battled to take a four-point lead before the Unaka Lady Rangers fought back with 11 straight points to come out with a 47-40 victory at Snavely Gym.
   "We didn't take care of the ball and Happy Valley played good defense," said Unaka coach Ken Chambers. "We've only played a few teams that play hard on defense like they do. We didn't shoot well and Happy Valley played better than us."
   Defense was the key for Happy Valley, which created several turnovers and drew some big offensive fouls.
   "Defensively, we played well and pressed them a little bit," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey. "We got a few things done and got good looks, but we didn't hit enough shots."
   "I thought we played well, but we didn't get the shots down and turned it over late," he said. "Unaka's a good, solid team."
   The Lady Warriors used the combo of Terra Whaley and Kate Powell, who each dropped a pair of buckets, to take a lead midway through the first quarter.
   Unaka struck back with buckets from Renee Ensor and Coty Townsend to take a 10-8 lead after one.
   Whaley tied things up for Happy Valley at the top of the second before Jessica Osborne got hot from behind the three-point arch with a pair of treys to lead Unaka to a four-point lead at the half.
   Happy Valley was strong at the beginning of the second frame, taking a small lead after a pair of Brandi Dugger buckets from the charity stripe, and holding Unaka without a bucket for the first two minutes of the third.
   Townsend and Danielle Ensor led Unaka back less than a minute later, and the Lady Rangers held an eight-point edge going into the final period.
   The Lady Tribe battled right back with buckets from Whaley and Powell at the top of the fourth, before a Mandy Byrd trifecta cut it to one.
   Kortney Goulds also drained a trey and Amber Duncan rolled a bucket to give the Lady Warriors a four-point lead before Townsend and Ensor tied it back up for Unaka.
   The Lady Rangers got a trey from Osborne and an intentional foul call with free throws from Townsend to make it a five-point game in their favor as time ran down.
   Townsend led the game with 13 points for the Lady Rangers, while Jessica Osborne finished with 12. Renee Ensor and Julie Roberson, both who were defensed during the outing, finished with seven.
   "Townsend helped us win," said Chambers. "She's been playing pretty good ball lately and she stepped up and took an emotional leadership role which is something we've needed."
   Happy Valley was led by Whaley with 12, while Powell and Byrd dropped eight and seven apiece.
   Unaka hosts Johnson County Thursday, while Happy Valley visits Crockett on Friday.