Rangers dismiss Huskies

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   The Unaka Rangers took on their first Watauga Valley Conference matchups with a heightened level of enthusiasm Friday night, as they wrapped up their first conference wins with two impressive victories over the Huskies of North Greene.
   In the first contest of the evening, the Lady Rangers played even with the Huskies for one quarter, but after that it was all Unaka as they dominated the next two quarters to pull away with a 68-49 victory.
   In the first quarter the Huskies took a small lead halfway through the period on the strength of 9 first quarter points by Patricia Penley. However the Rangers would recover and regain the lead heading to the second period 15-13.
   In the second period the Rangers took the lead into double digits as scoring contributions from eight Lady Rangers put the Huskies down by 11 points at the half.
   The third period would be just as bad for the Huskies as Kelly Taylor knocked down a three from long range, and Mandy Robertson added another trey as the Ranger perimeter game stretched the lead out to 18.
   The fourth period was a forgone conclusion, as the Rangers, despite some foul trouble, cruised to a comfortable 68-49 win.
   After the contest, Lady skipper Kenneth Chambers was pleased with his team's performance.
   "We stepped up," said Chambers. "I'm proud of them. They played real well tonight."
   Chambers was especially pleased with his team's shooting performance.
   "They can shoot the ball," added Chambers. "It's all about confidence, and when these girls are confident, we play well."
   Taylor and Coty Townsend posted double figures, posting 15 and 13 points, respectively, while Penley led the Huskies with 20.
   The gentlemen were next on the agenda, and they were waiting to unleash a lethal first quarter on the Huskies as their early 22-point lead would translated into a 74-51 final score.
   The perimeter game was once again in full force for the Rangers as they shot the ball extremely well from the outside. All told, Unaka nailed 10 three-pointers in the contest.
   The first quarter for the most part sealed up the victory for Unaka, as the Rangers scored the first 22 points unanswered. North Greene waited until 23 seconds left in the period, when Thomas Ornsbee converted a pair of free throws, to score.
   The second quarter saw the Huskies awake as Jason Hickman went on a tear, scoring eight in the period, as he was just warming up to a 26-point performance.
   The Huskies outscored the Rangers in the second period 21-18, but the lead was still 19 heading into the second half. Then, a halfcourt three pointer by Dustin Collins regained the momentum as time expired in the second.
   The perimeter game took a backseat to post play in the second half. Hickman continued to pace the Huskies as Ben Cole and Aaron Dugger battled it out down low.
   Cole and Dugger continued to pace the Rangers in the fourth, as the lead was just to much to tackle. Despite another solid quarter by the big center, Hickman could not close the gap and the Rangers destroyed the Huskies by 23 points.
   Unaka head coach Donald Ensor was pleased to see his team play a complete contest.
   "We've worked them hard lately," Ensor said. "We were familiar with their defense, and we executed well."
   But improvement is still on the agenda for the Rangers as Ensor looks to take it to the next level.
   "We didn't close out the game like we should have. We must improve on that," said Ensor.
   For the Rangers, four men went into double figures as Cole and Dugger had 24 and 19, respectively, while Dustin Collins and Rusty Chambers had 10 apiece.
   Hickman led the Huskies with 26.