Jr. Rangers slow down Comets

By Ivan Sanders

STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   When a team comes to the confines of Unaka Elementary gym, they had better be ready to fight for their lives because there is something about playing at home that makes the Jr. Rangers a handful for any opposing coach.
   If you don't believe that, just ask Central's coaching staff after Monday night.
   The Jr. Rangers celebrated Homecoming 2002 on the creek by taking two big wins over the visiting Comets of Central, winning thrilling and closely-contested ball games. The eighth-grade girls went to the wire in lassoing a 35-32 win, and in the nightcap the boys took the finale by a 47-37 margin to remain unbeaten at 8-0 on the season.
   In boys action, there is a name people on Stoney Creek is going to be hearing a lot from over the next few years from the hardwood, and that is Brandon Roper. Roper played unconscious in the first half, hitting for 14 points to pace the Jr. Rangers.
   Even with the scoring output from Roper, Central was still in the ballgame at half, trailing by only three points, 22-19. Matt Moore kept the Comets within firing range, knocking down eight points in the opening half.
   "You know you have to play hard against Unaka anytime you play," stated Central mentor Lamont Barnett. "We got into foul trouble in the first half and that broke our momentum, but one thing is for sure and that is you can't do that against a good team like Unaka."
   Roper came out and picked right back up from where he left off as he blistered the nets for 11 of the 13 points scored by the Jr. Rangers in the stanza. Central couldn't get untracked as it managed only five in the period, all coming off the shooting hand of Jordan Lewis.
   The Rangers ran into foul problems in the fourth period and that was when Coach Mark Revis called upon a sixth-grader by the name of Jeff Peters, who came in and filled the cotton to the tune of seven points to go along with a great defensive effort in picking up two charging fouls from the Comets.
   "Our offense feeds off of Brandon, but he can't score every point," stated Jr. Ranger coach Revis. "I thought Jeff made the most of his two quarters of action and the team as a whole played very well."
   Roper finished with 25 points on the night, followed by 10 from Peters. Andrew Church and Joey Sheets contributed four points each for the Rangers as well.
   Matt Moore collected 14 to show the way for Central, with teammate Lewis chipping in with 13. Josh Moore added five for Central with Caleb Johnson netting four.
   Girls
   Unaka 35
   Central 32
   In a game that resembled a battle of Rock'em Sock'em Robots, the Jr. Lady Rangers pulled it together going down the stretch to hold off a very good Lady Comet team by a slim margin of three points.
   Knotted at 30-30 with 1:28 remaining in the contest, neither team was ready to back down. Stephanie Keraman nailed the biggest shot down the stretch as the guard launched a three that swooshed the net to push the Lady Rangers' edge to three with a few ticks remaining in the contest.
   Central hit a bucket to cut it to one point before Jaclyn Campbell closed the door on the Lady Comets by hitting a deuce with 12 seconds remaining to help the Lady Rangers celebrate a homecoming victory.
   "The game was a real slobberknocker," stated Lady Comet coach Shannon Byers. "Unaka's defense was tenacious, but I was really pleased that we kept battling and never quit."
   Billie Jean Campbell paced the Lady Comets with 13 on the evening while Courtney Byers tossed in 9. Ashley McWalters added six and Britney Randolph closed out the scoring sheet with four.
   Coach Don Parkey was pleased with the play of his Jr. Lady Rangers.
   Said Parkey: "We got into foul trouble early with our guard Lunceford, and that hurt. It seemed like we played nervous all night, but I think that we have really made a lot of improvements since the summer and even since the season began. It's just a matter of us playing and prodding along. We have to play every night like there is a National Championship on the line."
   Campbell burned the nets up as she led all scorers with 18 points. Keraman added seven point,s with Tara Potter collecting four.
   Note: Congratulations to Miss Mallory Estep for being crowned Homecoming Queen for Unaka Jr. High in 2002 during halftime ceremonies of the boys contest.