Lady Rangers exceed hoop expectations

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The Unaka Lady Rangers season could be compared to the construction of a new house.
   Let's start with the foundation. Early on, the foundation began taking form with high hopes of a promising season. Some early loses may have caused the progress to slow, but there was still a glimmer of hope.
   Then the builder had to cope with some unexpected problems in the support system. A couple of pieces of material had to be sadly removed and new, untested material inserted in its place.
   Yet, the building continued.
   With resolve in his eye, the builder was more determined to prove that the house would stand and be even more surprising than most anticipated.
   So, the progress continued until the house had taken some resemblance of what the builder envisioned. Finally, a key deadline came.
   The house was under roof, but more importantly it was holding it's own.
   Yes, the Lady Rangers have came from a beginning of hope, withstanding storms that young ladies shouldn't have to face, and have even lost some by the wayside.
   Yet, they prevailed and should remind all of us how important perseverance really is.
   They loaded the buses for Lincoln Memorial University with courage and hope of doing something that no one gave them a chance of accomplishing.
   Jellico and Hancock County found these young ladies from Stoney Creek to be a bit more than they anticipated and as a result stowed their gear for another season.
   Cloudland had done experienced first-hand the scrappy play that the Lady Rangers came to be known for. They didn't take them for granted the second time around.
   Oneida was the next to witness the drive these ladies possessed, as they had a hefty lead only to see the Lady Rangers dig down deep to claw, fight, and scratch their way back into the contest.
   A fallen shot here and a rebound there was all that stood between these remarkable young ladies boarding the bus to join the Lady Highlanders in Nashville.
   It wasn't meant to be on this night. Oneida road the coattails of their seniors to the elite eight.
   One could see as the Lady Rangers emerged from the locker room after the contest a sparkle in their eyes. They knew they were much younger, but they still fought with Unaka pride.
   As for the builder, many people don't understand his methods. For those of us that have seen his handy work in action, Coach Kenneth Chambers is a man that many mistakenly categorize at first glance.
   Yet, there isn't a coach anywhere around that doesn't recognize hidden talents any better than he. He doesn't look at a kid and immediately judge them, he gives them the benefit of the doubt.
   All he has done in a short time at Unaka High is turn a program around with a bevy of young talent that many coaches wouldn't even take the time to mold and shape.
   The Unaka Lady Rangers have came from a program that was virtually leveled to a team that has received many turned heads with their play.
   Funny thing is, the builder hasn't even added the little touches that turn a building into a mansion.
   There are several supporting workers in this building process-- parents, teachers, administration, and community. For those folks who didn't get a chance to see what was going on inside, don't fret.
   Next year the Lady Rangers will be returning another year older, tested by fire, and ready to prove that their sub state run wasn't a fluke.
   If nothing else, there is one thing that can be said about this fine group of talented, young ladies.
   The community of Stoney Creek has reason to be proud because of the way these girls have overcame the storms they have faced this year.
   They have shown the kind of Ranger pride that only athletes that have walked the halls of Unaka High School could know. Donning the maroon and white has an effect that seems to bring out resilience in an athlete.
   Congratulations Lady Rangers on an outstanding season. Carter County and the state of Tennessee will be hearing from you again.