Jr. Rangers squeak by Hampton

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   It went down to the wire between Unaka and Hampton in junior high boys action on Thursday night, with the Rangers escaping a 23-22 final.
   The Rangers were undefeated going into the contest, and a rout at Unaka earlier in the season left minds wondering whether or not the Bulldogs had enough to talent to compete.
   Hampton surely answered the question on Thursday, as it was one play away from pulling an upset.
   It took Hampton nearly 10 minutes to get its first score in the first meeting against the Rangers, but this time it was just over four minutes, which gave them an early lead of 2-0.
   Jonathan Lyons made a pass to Dustin Jaynes on the inside to give the Bulldogs the early advantage.
   Unaka was scoreless through the first period of play, until Joey Sheets hit Brandon Roper down low with 22 seconds left.
   "We did everything wrong in every aspect of the game. We didn't take care of the ball or rebound and we were lucky to win," said Unaka coach Mark Revis.
   The score was 2-2 at the end of the first quarter, as neither team was having success of getting a shot to drop.
   Hampton pulled ahead by two when Justin Bentley hit a bucket down inside.
   The Bulldogs had the momentum at that point, but a turnover in the frontcourt with under two minutes left resulted in an 8-0 run by the Rangers in the final minutes of the half.
   Sheets picked up a loose ball and took it all the way to the other end for the lay-up.
   A steal by Roper off the press gave Unaka another quick bucket forcing the Bulldogs to call a time-out.
   Unaka played for the final shot of the half, but a miss was rebounded by Jeff Peters, whose putback at the buzzer gave the Rangers a 10-4 lead at the half.
   The Rangers got a quick bucket to start the second half, when Roper made a pass to Sheets for the deuce.
   Hampton came right back to roll off the next six points, with Jaynes connecting on a couple of free-throws and two field goals from Bobby James close the deficit down to two.
   Kyle Wilson grabbed a rebound and made the putback to give the Rangers a 14-10 lead at the end of the third period.
   "We never did get in sink the whole game. We were flat and never came out of it the whole time," said Revis.
   Unaka came out in the fourth quarter striking first, when Andrew Church made a cut to the basket with Roper making the pass.
   Hampton responded by scoring the next six points of the contest to tie it at 16-16.
   Two baskets from Jarred Irick and a score off an inbounds pass to Jaynes pulled the Bulldogs even with 2:40 left in the game.
   The Rangers grabbed two quick scores, after a pass from Church found Roper inside the paint for the easy two, and a steal and bucket by Sheets made it 20-16.
   Jaynes hit Josh Taylor with a pass to break the press for a score, but Unaka came back down with Church finding Roper again to push the lead back to four.
   An eight-foot jumper by James cut the lead to two with a minute and a half left.
   Unaka went to a four corners in the final minute, but a steal from Taylor gave the Bulldogs an opportunity to tie the contest.
   "Unaka is one of the best teams in the area if not the best. For us to have a chance to win just tickles me," said Hampton coach Leon Tolley.
   Taylor missed the lay-up on the break away, but a foul was called on a rebound giving Hampton one more shot.
   The Bulldogs were unable to beat the five second call on the inbound pass, so they had to foul Church as the Rangers took possession.
   Church hit one of two free-throws, and Jaynes grabbed the rebound and dribbled all the way down inside for the two points instead of attempting a three.
   Time ran out for the Bulldogs, but it was a hard-fought loss which saw them battle back every time their backs were against the wall.
   Lady Jr. Rangers 19
   Lady Jr. Bulldogs 10
   Friday the 13th came one day early at Hampton Elementary, as both Unaka and Hampton struggled to score in a Lady Ranger win of 19-10.
   This game was mainly a defensive battle, with neither team being able to catch much of an offense spurt.
   "We've played a lot better and are improving every ball game, but we still have a long way to go," said Lady Ranger coach Don Parkey.
   The Rangers grabbed a 4-2 lead after the first period, when Tera Potter passed to Jaclyn Campbell down low for the score.
   Unaka added two free throws, but a basket from Mikki Oliver kept the Bulldogs from being shut out in the opening quarter.
   Hampton closed the lead down to one point as Tamra Lyons hit a three-point shot, but Angela Vaughn was able to score off a rebound at the buzzer to give the Rangers an 8-5 lead at the half.
   Some nice rebounding by Potter on the inside resulted with two filed goals, and a drive off a weave from Tessa Lunceford gave Unaka a 14-8 advantage after three quarters.
   "Rebounding might of been the difference in the ball game, because I think we might of outrebounded them two to one," said Parkey.
   The Rangers pushed their lead to 11 in the final period, when Campbell made a drive inside the paint.
   The Bulldogs were nonproductive on offense, as Oliver hit their only basket in the final period off a steal from the press.
   "We played pretty good defense, but we just couldn't hit any of our shots. Maybe we'll do better next time," said Lady Bulldog coach Ronnie Street.