Rangers burn Devils

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   The Unaka Rangers opened up their game against the Jellico Blue Devils much like a team that got upset earlier this week. The only difference -- they turned it around and got the job done.
   Down throughout the whole first half, shooting around 18 percent, the Rangers battled back and overwhelmed Jellico with a 77-43 victory Tuesday night at Lacy Fieldhouse.
   "It was the worse half we've played all season," said Unaka coach Donald Ensor. "We took our adjustments at the half and did a good job of executing the decisions we made.
   "Our scoring was balanced and we played better defense in the half."
   Jellico went up on Unaka early behind Kevin Swafford and Sharp, taking an 8-3 lead. Derek Cline got a bucket for the Rangers, but they opened 0-9 shooting 12 percent after the first period.
   Chris Arnold hit a big trey to cut into Jellico's lead early in the second quarter, but Swafford helped put the Devils up 11.
   Cody Collins hit a big trey and a free throw to cut it to seven for the Rangers as they trailed by three.
   Collins tied the game with a three to open the third, with a Chambers free throw giving Unaka their first lead of the night.
   Some big plays from the Arnold and the Rangers put the game in check with a strong 19-point lead.
   "At halftime, we got our butts chewed," said Chris Arnold. "We didn't want to slip up in the regional. I tried to do all I could do and they were just falling for me tonight."
   Unaka opened up with some big scores in the fourth period from Rusty Holtsclaw and Arnold to keep their lead up around the thirty point mark.
   It was quite the turnaround for the Rangers, who finished shooting over fifty percent on the evening with four players reaching double figures.
   Rusty Chambers led the Rangers with 21 points, while Chris Arnold, Derek Cline and Josh Jones had 12, 11 and 10 apiece.
   "We played sloppy," said Chambers. "We knew how hard it was in the regionals after last night and knew not to take anyone for granted in the tournament."
   The Rangers move to a big semifinal outing with Hancock County at 5:30 p.m. today
   "We had to step it up and come to play in the second tonight," Chambers said. "Hancock's a good team and we've got to keep playing our style. We need to step it up and box out and hopefully we can come out with a win."
   Said Ensor: "We have a huge task in front of us tomorrow. It's the semifinals and that's the way it is, you've got to be prepared to play in a game of that magnitude."
   Swafford and Taylor Mitchell led Jellico with 16 and 11 apiece.
   University High 60
   Powell Valley 53
   University High led most of the first half agaisnt Powell Valley, but the Indians rallied back with a lead of their own with tenacious defense and a tough plan blocking Junior Buc Brandon Bradley.
   Powell Valley held a one-point advantage into the second half.
   The Junior Bucs battled through the Indian comeback spree with a continuous lead throughout the majority of the second half.
   Powell Valley roared back behind Corey Russell and were within winning distance late in the game. Danny Quick and Brandon Bradley gave UH the victory with some big plays in the end.
   Bradley and Quick led the Junior Bucs with 17 a piece in the contest, while Matt Tillman dropped 11. Jedidiah Rowlett and Russell paced the Indians with 13 and 10, respectively.