Warriors get past Rangers

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   An old-fashioned Carter County rivalry brought flavor to the local high school basketball scene on Tuesday night, as the Happy Valley Warriors traveled to Stoney Creek and captured their first win of the season with a 60-47 victory over Unaka.
   "We rebounded very well tonight, and we shot the ball from both the field and free-throw line. And when you do that you're going to win ball games," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless.
   A strong fourth-quarter showing by Happy Valley (1-1) proved to be the difference, as it executed the fast break and controlled the boards in the final eight minutes.
   "We handled their press and halfcourt trap pretty well, and if we would have ran the break in the second half against Boone like we did tonight, then it probably would have been a different ball game," said Bayless.
   The Warriors grabbed a 6-3 lead in the first four minutes of the game, after a pass down-low from Stephen Williams to Tim Whaley connected for the score.
   Unaka (3-6) battled back to take a 9-6 lead at the end of the first, with Rusty Holtsclaw and Chris Arnold hitting from the inside.
   "Our intensity level was good, but we got killed on the boards. We defended fairly well, but not by our standards," said Unaka coach Donald Ensor.
   Happy Valley reclaimed the lead in the second period, when Jordy Harrison hit a 12-foot jumper from outside.
   The Warriors built a five-point lead with the quarter winding down, but a three-point shot at the buzzer by Derek Cline pulled the Rangers back to within one possession, 22-20.
   Unaka grabbed the early lead in the third quarter, with Arnold making a putback off a rebound, and Cody Collins hitting a three.
   Collins led the Rangers in scoring with 16 points, with 12 of those coming off of threes.
   The Warriors reassumed control near the end of the period, as they scored the last eight points of the quarter.
   "Our offensive execution was not there all night, and I don't know if we were able to complete a play, let alone an offensive set," said Ensor.
   Two consecutive field goals from Andrew Bowman gave Happy Valley a 41-35 edge heading into the final period.
   "One thing we struggled with in the jamboree was rebounding and getting fast breaks, so we practiced it all week and worked hard," said Bowman.
   The Rangers were making a comeback to start the quarter, when Rusty Chambers hit a three-pointer to pull Unaka back within three.
   Happy Valley went on from that point to outscore the Rangers 11-2 in the next four minutes.
   Bowman answered the three from Unaka by hitting one of his own, which seemed to swing the momentum back into the Warriors corner.
   "Coach Bayless teaches us to swing the ball to find the open shot, and the bench hollered at me to shoot it and I did," said Bowman.
   Whaley came alive in the final minutes of the contest, as he rebounded, led the fast break, made nice passes and virtually came into a zone of his own.
   "Coach harps on looking down the floor in every practice, and it sinks into our mind and becomes a habit for us now," said Whaley.
   The junior had 10 of Happy Valley's 19 points in the final quarter, as Unaka was unable to stop the Warriors from executing the break.
   "In my first game I just wasn't mentally there, but in this game I came out ready to play," said Whaley.
   Lady Rangers 50
   Lady Warriors 45
   The Lady Rangers found themselves in a tough battle with the Lady Warriors, but Unaka decided in going with their bread and butter in the final period to squeeze out a 50-45 win.
   "I believe we might of been just a little deeper than they were, and we kept subbing in keeping people fresh, and down the stretch we kept pushing it. They seemed to be getting tired," said Unaka girls coach Kenneth Chambers.
   Julie Roberson came through for the Rangers to score 23 points on the night, with 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter.
   "When Julie wants to be she's dominating, and I told her we was going to ride her and give it in to her, and she came through for us," said Chambers.
   The Warriors led after the first period of play, as Terra Whaley connected on two field goals to give Happy Valley an 11-9 lead.
   Happy Valley clung to a two-point margin at the break after Mandy Byrd stepped up to score the Warriors last six points of the quarter.
   The third quarter went in favor of the Rangers, as they held the Warriors to one field goal and two free throws, giving Unaka a 30-23 lead.
   "We didn't play that well in the first half, but our coach gave us a good pep talk at halftime and we came out ready to play," said Roberson.
   Jessica Osborne hit a three-pointer to spark the Rangers, as they outscored Happy Valley 9-2 in the final four minutes.
   "We had too many silly turnovers, bad fouls in bad situations, and people not executing our offense and defenses at the wrong time," said Happy Valley girls coach Ben Godsey.
   Happy Valley got itself back in the ball game after Byrd connected on a three-point play, and Brandi Dugger hit a 10-foot jumper off a fake.
   The game became tied at 34-34 when Kortney Goulds sank one of two free throws with 4:35 remaining in the contest.
   But from there on Unaka elected to go to their strong force on the inside by feeding the ball down low to Roberson, where she was not to be stopped by scoring 14 of the last 17 points for the Rangers.
   "My team did really well of getting the ball inside, and we've had trouble in the past, but we moved the ball around good tonight," said Roberson.
   The Warriors were led by Dugger, who finished with 14 points while Byrd added 11.
   "We let the big girl catch it inside and score on us in the fourth quarter, and our effort was there tonight, but we mentally lapsed several times and that's what cost us the ballgame," said Godsey.