Hampton gets past Unaka

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   Better late than never.
   Hampton's Junior Bulldogs didn't decide to take off running until the last quarter, coming from behind to capture a 40-38 win at Unaka.
   The fourth-quarter rally from Hampton overtook the Jr. Rangers, who seemed to have the game in hand. A couple of free throws in the final minute was the difference in Bulldog win.
   Hampton overcame early foul trouble and the absence of key player Bobby James (broken arm), who will probably miss action until the first of the year.
   "You have to give credit to Unaka and Coach Revis," said Hampton coach Leon Tolley. "They outplayed us the first three quarters, but you also have to give credit to my guys. They didn't quit."
   Hampton opened the game with a 4-0 lead when Justin Bentley scored off the break and Dustin Milhorn nailed a jumper from the right corner.
   Unaka came back to score the remaining points of the period. They tied the contest at 4-4 on a steal and pass from Jeff Peters to Thomas Colbaugh, who scored the bucket.
   An assist from Tyler Walsh down low to Peters gave the Rangers a two-point lead by the end of the first.
   Unaka came out in the second period scoring the first seven points with Travis Taylor converting a three-point play after a steal and hard foul.
   Hampton managed to cut the deficit down to five by halftime, after Bentley took control inside. He led the Bulldogs with 18 points on the night.
   The Rangers controlled the tempo to start the third period with a couple of field goals by Adam Colbaugh. Two free-throws from Peters gave Unaka their biggest lead of the game at 33-22.
   "We played real hard for about two and a half quarters," said Unaka coach Mark Revis. "In the second and third quarter I thought we played real well. We just need to learn how to finish a game off."
   Hampton started their comeback effort toward the end of the third with a steal and bucket from Bentley and an eight-foot jumper by Josh Lewis.
   The Bulldogs were able to pull even after the first four and a half minutes of play, going on a 12-3 run.
   "I'm tickled with the effort from my kids," said Tolley. "We had to play through foul trouble, but I think that's the experience they we've gained by having to play all seventh graders last year."
   A driving shot from Dustin Jaynes with a minute and a half left gave Hampton their first lead of the ball game at 38-36 since early in the first period.
   The Rangers tied the contest with a rebound and put back from Walsh. The Rangers threatened to retake the lead with just under a minute.
   A drive by Peters in an effort to split two defenders resulted in an offensive foul being called.It was his fifth and final with :55 seconds left to play. Peters left the game as Unaka's leading scorer on the night with 12 points.
   Milhorn and Jaynes hit one free-throw apiece down the final stretch. Adam Colbaugh had one last shot at a game winning three, but is was too hard off the backboard securing, the Bulldog victory.
   "There size took a toll on us in the final minutes and they were going after it and deserve everyone that they got," said Revis. "We didn't take care of the ball in crucial times and didn't do a good job boxing out which was what cost us the ball game."
   Hampton 46 Girls
   Unaka 31
   Being fierce on defense and scrapping on the boards allowed the Jr. Lady 'Dogs to come away with a 46-31 final over Unaka.
   Hampton jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the contest after Josie McKinney made the steal off an inbounds pass.
   "It was easy to press on this small floor and that seemed to hurt Unaka's girls," said Hamptom coach Ronnie Street." "We did good at running the break, especially Mickey Oliver. She's hard to stop once she gets started."
   Natallie Johnson got the Rangers on the board with a lay-up after breaking the press, but the full-court pressure took its toll with Hampton leading 11-4 at the end of the first.
   Dana Williams became the Rangers strong horse of the night pouring in five of her 16 points in the second quarter, but Unaka didn't have an answer for Mikki Oliver who scored ten of the last 12 points of the period.
   The Bulldogs continued their pressure and stretched their advantage to 39-16 by the end of the third, as Kayleigh Elsea knocked down a foul shot for the Rangers with no time remaining.
   "It's the same story as before we just have trouble scoring," said Unaka coach Don Parkey. "We have just six playing and got one hurt. Then we had foul trouble, but basically we couldn't score."
   Lana Hicks paced the Bulldogs in the third, scoring all of her seven points in that quarter alone, as she went five of eight from the free-throw line.
   "We played aggressive tonight and did a better job at making foul-shots than what we have been," said Street. "I'm real pleased of how we did a better job at the free-throw line."
   The Rangers made a little rally in the final period to cut the lead almost in half after Johnson nailed a couple of three-point goals.
   The game ended with a bucket from no other than Oliver who led all scorers with 21 points.
   "We played hard and the effort was there, and when we wasn't in foul trouble and could get into the press then we were kindly in the ball game," said Parkey.
   In the JV boys and girls games between Unaka and Hampton neither contest was decided until another period was played reaching overtime.
   Unaka boys came away with a 33-26 victory, as Jeff Peters led the way with 12 points. D.J. Puckett and Dustin Roberson both added nine apiece for the Bulldogs.
   In girls' action, Hampton squeaked out a 35-28 victory. Cassie Johnson led the way with 14 points, while the Rangers were led by Kayleigh Elsea with ten.