Unaka makes good showing in 70-58 loss

By Ivan Sanders

   ONEIDA -- Mama once told this writer that there was nothing like homecooking. The Oneida Lady Indians proved that Saturday night.
   The Unaka Lady Rangers entered substate play for the first time since the mid-'80s against Region 2 champion Oneida, only to be turned back by a score of 70-58 in a Class A contest.
   The score is misleading because the Lady Rangers were only down by four points late in the fourth quarter.
   "I told my girls not to let the fact Unaka is mainly made of freshmen be misleading," said Lady Indians coach Marv West. "They proved me right, too. Unaka has a great young team"
   The Lady Rangers came out strong to open the game and trailed by only two, 17-15, at the end of the first period.
   Oneida was paced by Amanda Jackson with 10 first-quarter points. Julie Roberson played strong under the goal to net six, followed by Kelly Taylor with three points.
   Unaka had the foul bug in the second period as the officials seemed to only see maroon in the eight-minute session. The Lady Indians responded by sinking 9-of-12 free throws to outscore the Lady Rangers 17-5 and take a 34-20 halftime lead.
   "Our girls played their butts off," said Lady Rangers coach Kenneth Chambers. "They really were nervous there early in the first half."
   Behind the play of Renee Ensor, Roberson and Taylor, the Rangers came storming back to cut the lead to 49-39 at the end of three complete quarters of action.
   With the Unaka faithful on their feet, the Lady Rangers then showed the same spunkiness that put them in the substate.
   Roberson prowled the middle like a panther ready for a kill as she pumped in seven points in the final stanza.
   Danielle Ensor came alive, and behind the play of Ensor and Roberson, the Lady Indian lead was cut to three, 57-54, with 2:33 to play.
   The game was anybody's until Jackson converted a three-point play with 1:31 to play to edge the lead back to 65-56 in favor of Oneida.
   From that points, the Lady Indians forced Unaka to foul and calmly sank their free throws to put the final margin at 70-58.
   "We're a young team with three juniors and the rest freshmen," said Chambers. "I just told them to work hard next year and we'll play at our house."
   Roberson finished with 17 points, while Danielle Ensor added 13 and Renee Ensor totaled 11.
   Jackson tossed in 25 for the Indians, with Amanda Terry and Heather Caldwell chipping in with 14 and 11, respectively.