Eagles stung by Unaka's two Rustys

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was a tale of two Rustys.
   One was expected to be the standout in the game. Both did what it took to win.
   Although Unaka's season-long standout, Rusty Chambers, hit the shot to clinch Unaka's 55-52 substate victory over the Cosby Eagles at Snavely Gym on Monday night, Rusty Holtsclaw's fourth quarter was a big reason the Rangers are going to the state tournament.
   Holtsclaw had eight of the team's 19 fourth-quarter points, which keyed the team's comeback when it was down by 10 going into the final frame.
   "I got two cheap fouls in the first half and I was trying to make up for that," said Holtsclaw, one of the team's big junior posts. "I knew our team was capable of coming back. Ten points don't bother us as much. It was a little scary."
   It was fitting that each of the players in a maroon jersey on the court either hit a big bucket or made a big defensive play down the final stretch.
   Junior Derek Cline made it a two-point game on a trey before senior point Cody Collins tied it on a three ball with 3:31 remaining.
   Another big reason that many people may overlook was the play of Tyler McCann.
   The junior guard had 12 rebounds and three steals during the game, including a few big grabs down the stretch to set up scores.
   "I had to get in there and get the rebounds," said McCann, who was often left alone on the court. "They'll leave me out and I'll just run out and get it back in to get my team two points to get us going."
   McCann got a big rebound in the fourth quarter which set up Unaka's tying bucket.
   The Rangers held the clock off for Chambers, who had only scored two points prior in the half.
   The senior was unscathed when the Rangers threw the ball in, he tucked behind the Cosby defense and was set up in the right corner. With five seconds remaining, he made the three-point play that sealed the deal.
   "The play was supposed to be a pass to the wing first, so I cut open and cut over early and got the shot," said Chambers. "We were in a fight tonight. We played hard defense at the end and got the win. We had to suck it up so we wouldn't be sent home."
   Perhaps the biggest reason Unaka kept their cool was the man sitting on the bench.
   Donald Ensor gave this team perhaps the toughest schedule the school's ever faced.
   He kept his cool throughout the season, and when everything was on the line Monday night, his team was prepared.
   "Those guys never quit on me before and I didn't expect them to back down," the coach said. "We played a monster schedule and that's (the reason) why. Those guys played plenty of games on the road against the best competition we could possibly schedule. In a game like that, they are used to it."
   Cosby received a lot of statewide recognition this season, despite the fact that an often unmentioned Unaka squad played a tougher schedule and split with the Eagles during the regular season.
   It was one of the biggest crowds to see a game in Snavely Gymnasium and fitting that this team could play its final home game on its home court, as opposed to two years ago.
   And with the school sending both its girls and boys basketball teams to Murfreesboro, it should be a good couple of weeks for the people on Stoney Creek.