Rangers ride Dugger's 17 to down 'Landers in jamboree

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- It's pretty incredible that the power stayed on in Johnson City Thursday night.
   That's because Unaka Ranger star Aaron Dugger was shooting the lights out at Brooks Gym.
   Dugger scored 17 points in Unaka's 35-28 win over Cloudland in boys action of the Watauga Valley Jamboree.
   The games were 15-minutes long, and featured play in both boys and girls competition.
   Clinch defeated Providence Academy 27-16, and University High edged North Greene 23-21 in other boys play. Cloudland routed North Greene 39-16, and University High slipped by Unaka 29-28 in the girls competition.
   Dugger was definitely the key catalyst in Unaka's win. Unaka head coach Donald Ensor was very happy with how the senior played.
   "He played pretty well," Ensor said. "I think they all did, really. We've got some young players, and we've got to put the pieces together. It's going to take a while."
   Despite Dugger's scoring barrage and some sharp shooting by guard Dustin Collins, the Highlanders managed to keep it close throughout the contest.
   "We were out of sync a little bit, but this is the first dress rehearsal," Ensor said. "I'm pretty well pleased with their effort. We've got some things we have to clean up. I think our decision making wasn't exactly like we wanted it to be. But it's a 15-minute quarter."
   The Highlanders looked pretty sharp against the conference favorites, especially considering that several Cloudland players were missing because they're still playing football.
   "I was pleased with the effort," Cloudland head coach Ned Smith said. "We didn't have much depth. I think we'll be all right once we get our football players in there."
   The 'Landers were led by the sharp-shooting Kyle Jones, who netted 11 on the evening.
   "Kyle had a big game," Smith said. "He hadn't practiced in a couple of days because he turned his ankle on Monday. But his ankle did all right tonight. I was pleased with his effort."
   Robby Tolley added eight for the Landers, while Collins and Ben Cole tallied eight and seven, respectively for Unaka.
   Cloudland 39
   North Greene 16
   The Cloudland Lady Highlanders used a stellar pressure defense to ride them all the way to the sub-state last season.
   That same defense was prevalent on Thursday night, as the Lady 'Landers held North Greene to just four field goals.
   "We like our pressure," Lady Highlander head coach Matt Birchfield said. "I thought that was our asset as far as getting after them."
   The Lady Landers actually fell behind 5-0, but an 18-3 run put Cloudland ahead 18-8 with 8:45 to go. The Lady 'Landers never looked back from that point.
   "We played pretty well," Birchfield said. "We still have a lot of things to work on, but I'm real happy with our performance. I like the way we play hard."
   Amy Storie was a big gun inside for the Lady Landers, as she finished with eight points.
   "We're expecting big things out of her," Birchfield said. "We like her size inside, and we think she can give us good offensive play. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of points out of her.
   April Williams also scored eight for the Lady 'Landers.
   University High 29
   Unaka 28
   The Lady Rangers gave the host team all it wanted, but in the end the Lady Bucs were able to hold off pesky Unaka .
   Unaka had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but the Lady Rangers couldn't get a shot off.
   "We're young," Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers said. "University High played good, and played hard. They got a couple of more rebounds than we did off the glass. We got into some foul trouble, and we missed quite a few of our foul shots."
   Unaka rallied from a 22-15 deficit with 3:55 to go, but Chambers thought the youth of his team really showed in this game.
   "We're playing a lot of freshmen," Chambers said. "And they're going to make mistakes. We'll learn. We're going to get better as the year goes on."