Buckles, Jr. Rangers looking for a successful season

By DALLAS COOK

STAR Staff

   In the 2000-2001 junior high basketball season the Unaka junior Rangers came up just short in their quest for the middle school title as they finished second to the traditionally strong Hunter Tigers.
   The Rangers made a statement and went further than anyone had expected them to before falling in the playoffs to South Central.
   The reason for such a strong showing from Unaka was due to the play of Chris Buckles. Last season Buckles helped lead his team to a 17-4 record while earning All-Tournament honors as a seventh grader.
   "He's a part of the team that we depend on," said Unaka coach Mark Revis. "Along with the other players on the team we should do very well."
   Though the Unaka program has suffered some growing pains, it looks that this year could be the year they break out and experience success.
   "It's been fun playing at Unaka," said Buckles. "I've had good learning experiences as a player here."
   This season may be the first time that the Rangers have a legitimate shot of knocking off Hunter and if they hope to do so they'll need for Buckles to shine in his game.
   "I want to beat Hunter this year," said Buckles about the rival team. "Overall I would like to have a good season."
   Last year Unaka fell victim to one of the most memorable games in the region as they took on South Central and suffered a disappointing loss to end the season.
   "A memory that stick out the most since I've been here was last year when we lost to South Central in double overtime by three points," Buckles said. "We got down after that game but we learned from it."
   This year Unaka will be much improved and very high in talent as they return last year starters Tee Blevins and Kyle Estep. With Blevins at the post position and Estep running the perimeter, the Rangers will have size and speed to their advantage.
   "We've got a better shooting team this year," Buckles said of his team. "Defensively we've gotten stronger also. It's going to be pretty hard to stop us we have a good team this year, we hope to win the division this year."
   For coach Mike Revis things seem to be looking up for his program as the season gets underway.
   "We just need to take everyday one step at a time," said Revis. "If we do that we shouldn't have any problems."
   After his elementary career Buckles plans to attend Unaka High where he will play under coach Donald Ensor.
   "I'm looking forward to playing for coach Donald Ensor," said Buckles. "And getting a chance to play for a talented program."
   Buckles is the son of Jackie and Dale Cable and Lance and Glenda Buckles. He is also the grandson of J.C. and Marie Osborne and the late Betty Osborne and Eddie and Shirley Buckles.