Unaka anchors team of standouts

from staff reports

   The Unaka High basketball teams are making their presence felt on this year's All-Carter/Johnson County basketball team. Considering that both squads reached the state tournament, and one was able to win it all, that really comes as no surprise.
   While the state-champion Rangers have five representatives on this year's club, the Lady Rangers, after making their first trip to Murfreesboro, are represented by four individuals.
   On the boys' side of the ledger, Unaka produced the Player of the Year in senior guard/forward Rusty Chambers, Coach of the Year in Donald Ensor and Co-Defensive Player of the Year in senior guard Cody Collins.
   Earning second-team honors for the Rangers are junior guard Tyler McCann, the state tournament MVP and an all-stater, and Derek Cline, another junior guard.
   As for the girls, the Lady Rangers account for the Coach of the Year, Kenneth Chambers; Defensive Player of the Year, junior Renee Ensor; and two first-team selections, Jessica Osborne and Julie Roberson, both juniors.
   Elizabethton senior forward/guard Rikki Baughman was an easy choice for girls' Player of the Year.
   Charging to the top spot on the team, Chambers averaged 19 points a game this season for the Rangers, becoming Watauga Valley Conference Player of the Year and the district and regional tournament MVP before making the Class A all-state tournament squad and making two all-state squads.
   It was Ensor who guided his team through a rough and tumble schedule, which paid off in the form of the school's first state title in any sport. The veteran coach saw his Rangers finish with a 25-13 record, winning their final 10 games.
   Collins, a lightning quick guard who joined Chambers on the all-state tournament team, was particularly adept at creating turnovers and coming up with steals.
   The other Co-Defensive Player of the Year is Happy Valley junior center Alex Carroll, who emerged as a shot-blocking machine.
   First-team selections include Happy Valley senior forward Tim Whaley (14 ppg.), Cyclone senior forward Adam Turley (10 ppg), Cloudland senior center Robbie Tolley (15 ppg), Johnson County guard Judd Shoun (16 ppg) and Hampton center Adam Miller (14 ppg), who had a knack for making 3-pointers.
   Joining McCann and Cline on the second team are Cloudland senior guards Mark Byrd (7 ppg) and Craig Cooke (11 ppg), Elizabethton senior guard Lester Bailey (9 ppg), and Hampton junior guard Travis Smith (11 ppg).
   While Byrd nor Bailey were particularly known for their scoring prowess, their floor games were superb.
   There was also a tie in the Most Promising Underclassman voting. Sharing that honor is sophomore guard Todd Caldwell and sophomore forward Charles Peters.
   Caldwell averaged 10 points a game for Happy Valley, and Peters averaged eight points a game while serving as a solid rebounder for Elizabethton.
   Baughman, the Watauga Conference Player of the Year and MVP of the 1-AA district and regional tournaments, averaged 17 points and many rebounds a game while leading the Lady Cyclones to their first regional crown.
   Leading the Lady Rangers to a 25-7 record and their third consecutive substate appearance, Chambers got his club over the hump and into the state tourney.
   Unaka won its second-ever regional title along the way, and won its first conference and district crowns since the late 1980s.
   Ensor played a key role in that success, working as a slick defending guard who often scored off the turnovers she induced.
   The first team is made up of junior guard Jessica Osborne (11 ppg), the Watauga Valley Player of the Year; Hampton senior guard Joy Gardner (10 ppg), Johnson County senior forward Elena Owens (12 ppg), Happy Valley sophomore center Keila Williams (10 ppg) and Unaka junior center Julie Roberson (11 ppg), who seized all-state recognition.
   The second team consists of Cloudland senior April Williams (8 ppg), a forward; Elizabethton junior forward Valnessha Redd (7 ppg), Happy Valley junior guard Brandi Dugger (9 ppg), an all-around guard in 'Betsy senior Tanya Dykes (6 ppg), HV senior forward Terra Whaley (10 ppg) and a junior guard from Hampton, Heather Chambers (10 ppg).
   Most Promising Underclassman honors are shared by Hampton guard Lauren Pitman and Cloudland guard Jessica Lunsford, sophomores who each averaged 10 points a game.