Teams shake off rust before real games begin

  By Seth Butler
  STAR Correspondent
  BAILEYTON -- With the first big date of high school basketball action coming on Monday, the District 1-A members took to the hardwood at North Greene High School on Thursday evening in the Watauga Valley Conference jamboree.
  The opening game of the evening saw Clinch High School taking on the host North Greene Huskies. The Huskies, fielding a junior varsity in this game due to playing two contests on the night, raced out to an early 12-2 lead five minutes into the period (the format of the event was one, 15-minute period) before seeing Clinch battle back to shrink the Huskies lead to five, at 15-10.
  However, a trio of late turnovers by Clinch saw the Huskies add three easy transition buckets, to ice a 25-12 victory.
  Contest number two saw the University High Lady Junior Bucs lock horns with the Cloudland Lady Highlanders in what could be termed a defensive struggle, to say the least.
  University High jumped out 4-3 early through the period, although the Lady Bucs' own turnovers led to many missed opportunities for points, which enabled the Lady 'Landers to keep it close early.
  After stretching the lead to 7-3, a running lay-up by Rebecca Clawson as she was fouled led to a 3-point play, closing the gap to one.
  Less than one minute later, Heather Banner sank a 3-point basket to put Cloudland up 9-7, with 3:30 remaining. A pair of missed front-ends of a one-and-one cost the Lady Bucs dearly, as University High fell 9-8 to the Lady Highlanders of Cloudland.
  The third matchup of the evening saw Cloudland and University High again square off, this time with the varsity boys' squads in action.
  This period began fast-paced, with both teams placing five points on the scoreboard in the first four minutes. A see-saw battle all the way saw Cloudland gain the lead on two separate occasions to pull ahead 14-13 with three minutes left to play. However, just as quickly, the Junior Bucs pounced in front by one on a turnaround jumper, with 2:42 to play in the quarter.
  Cloudland had its opportunity however, but a missed front end of a bonus situation, allowed University High to take possession with 1:45 to go, and grow its lead to the eventual 22-15 margin of victory.
  The next matchup saw the Unaka Lady Rangers of head coach Ken Chambers take on the host North Greene Lady Huskies in an almost near slugfest. A contest that saw over 25 fouls whistled had the Lady Rangers shooting in the bonus only six minutes into the period, which would turn to be a vital key in the game for Unaka.
  Taking the early 4-0 lead, the Lady Rangers increased that lead to 7-3, thanks to free throws nailed by Kelly Allen, Sallee Taylor, and Lacey Gouge. As the fouls continued to mount, the Lady Rangers continued to hit their mark from the charity stripe, increasing their lead to half a dozen at 12-6, and eventually pulling away in the final minute to take the victory, 17-9.
  The final contest of the evening, the so-called main-event, saw the Rangers unofficially open up the defense of their state title of a season ago against the varsity version of the hosting Huskies.
  After Derek Cline sank an opening 3-pointer for the Rangers, North Greene came roaring back to take the lead after a turn-around jumper, and a running lay-up by Nathan Davis.
  Following two successful free throws by Clay Finley, the Huskies widened their advantage to 8-5, which was closed down to one point at the five-minute mark when Chase Reeves sank a 12-foot jumper, which was followed by a Rusty Holtsclaw jumper off of a North Greene turnover, that gave Unaka the 9-8 lead.
  However, missed opportunities on several open looks and tip-in attempts came back to haunt the Rangers, as North Greene took the lead for good when Matt Ornsbee scored on an un-contested lay-up.
  Two key turnovers in the final 1:30 of the game also did much to thwart the Rangers' effort, as on their final two possessions, Unaka was whistled for 3-second violations, enabling North Greene to escape with a 10-9 victory.
  Also on the evening, 3-point shooting contests were held, as Cloudland's Heather Banner took home the trophy from the girls' competition with seven 3-pointers. Haley Williams of North Greene sank five, Unaka's Jessica Osborne connected on four, and Christin Bentley hit three shots from behind the arc.
  The boys' competition electrified the crowd as David Chen of University High, Nathan Davis of North Greene, and Derek Cline of Unaka, all connected on nine 3-pointers in the first round forcing a tie-breaker, which was won by Cline, as he connected on his fifth shot of the round at the buzzer.