Junior Rangers subdue Comets

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   In a battle of hard knocks and bangs, Unaka came away with a 42-26 road victory over the Comets at Central on Monday night.
   "I knew it was going to be a tough game, but our kids kept on digging and this was the most aggressive I've seen them play," said Unaka coach Mark Revis.
   Central put the first points on the board, when Sammy Maricle received a pass on the inside for the easy score.
   Kyle Estep answered for the Rangers on a 12-foot jump shot to tie the contest at two apiece.
   A quarter mostly dominated by defense remained tied, until Jordan Lewis made a steal and drove in for a lay-up to put Central ahead 6-4 after the first.
   The Rangers came out in the second period scoring the first six points, all of them coming from Tee Blevins, who led Unaka with fiftieth on the night.
   Central was able to respond with the next two field goals, and tied the game at 10-10 off a fast-break by Chris Rutledge with 3:15 left until halftime.
   Unaka went on a 12-5 run after that point to go into the half up 22-15 with a bucket made from Chris Buckles right before the buzzer.
   In the third period, the Rangers shut down the Comet offense by allowing the Comets just one field goal in the quarter, coming with 1:00 left on the clock.
   The Rangers' defensive pressure was too intense for Central to make a run, causing the Comets to fall behind by 15 points entering the last quarter of play.
   A hustling and determined Central bunch refused to quit, making charge with 2:24 left in regulation as Maricle made one of two free throws.
   This was the closest the game became as the Rangers went on a 8-2 run in the end to put the contest out of reach.
   "Offensively we didn't score as I thought we could, because we unable to break the pressure like we're capable of doing," said Central coach Lamont Barnett.
   Seventh Grade
   In the seventh-grade boys game, it was Unaka overpowering Central in a 46-32 final.
   "At times we were letting the ball get past us, but overall I'm pretty pleased," said Unaka coach Mark Revis.
   The first bucket came for the Rangers from Andrew Church, who nailed a 12-foot jump shot to give Unaka the early advantage.
   Jordan Lewis and Matt Moore led the Comets, acquiring all but two of Central's points that were scored.
   The Comets trailed by only four points at the half, but they had no answers for Unaka's big men inside, as Brandon Roper and Robbie Huskins controlled the boards.
   "We try to concentrate when the shot goes up that we have at least four people crashing the boards," said Revis.
   Roper exploded to a 19-point performance for the game, having a field day with the put backs off the glass.
   The Rangers finally pulled away in the final quarter by outscoring Central 13-2 in the first four and half minutes of play.
   Jr. High Girls
   The defensive pressure and execution propelled the Central Lady Comets to a 52-24 win over Unaka.
   "I thought the press worked decent tonight. It gave us a lot of quick points, and we just need to continue and hustle to do better with it," said Central coach Shannon Byers.
   The first three shots came from Ashley McWalters, who finished with 18 points in the game -- 12 in the first period alone.
   Tara Potter knocked down a bucket for the Rangers in trying to jumpstart their offense, but it was Tiffany Babb who carried the load, scoring 18 of their twenty-four points.
   The Comets went up by 20 at the half when Miriah Pietrowski hit a jumper, making it 32-12.
   Central continued to dominate in the third and fourth periods with the full-court press and good guard play.
   "We're just real inexperienced now. We have only one girl who that has ever played basketball before," said Unaka coach Don Parkey.