HV controls Unaka

Girls game belongs to Lady Ranger

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was fun for one side to watch, but devastating for the other.
   The Unaka Rangers were taken out of their game Tuesday night and they weren't the same until the end. What got them was the stingy Happy Valley Warriors.
   The Tribe showed up ready to play, grabbing an early lead and keeping the ball away from their county rivals.
   When Unaka showed signs of a comeback late in the game, the home unit wouldn't have any of it and Happy Valley executed a 81-64 victory at Bayless Gym.
   "I'm tickled to death," said Happy Valley coach Charlie Bayless. "They've got a good ballclub. I think they're the best in the county, personally, because they can play. They're good shooters and they have the two big boys. We were lucky -- it will be a different game the next time."
   Happy Valley finished with six players in double digits, led by a 21-point effort from Tim Whaley.
   "We beat a pretty good team with the experience we've got," the Warrior coach added. "Our boys are going to get a little bit better. When you have boys come off the bench and play well, that's good. If you can do that, you're going to have a pretty good ball team."
   Unaka wasn't there mentally during the third quarter when its top four returning scorers from last season, Rusty Chambers, Rusty Holtsclaw, Josh Jones and Cody Collins, all exited with four fouls.
   But it wasn't the fouls that hurt the Rangers, according to Unaka coach Donald Ensor.
   "We didn't come ready to play," said Ensor. "We've done that the last two nights for whatever reason. We've not played up to my expectations yet. People keep referring back to the Bearden game. No, Bearden didn't approach us as a county rival. Teams like this do.
   "Every time we got it within striking distance, we were our own worst enemy everytime. The fundamentals of a basketball game -- we're not doing at all. I'm not going to bail them out and say foul trouble; that was poor position on our part."
   Whaley, Todd Caldwell and Jeremy Maddox led Happy Valley to a quick lead in the first quarter, despite the inside work from Rangers' Josh Jones and Tyler McCann.
   The Warriors held a tight lead through the second quarter behind Alex Carroll and Chris Rutledge, going up by six in to the third period.
   Fouls became an issue at that point for Unaka, while Happy Valley turned them and turnovers into points. Andrew Bowman and John Bulla increased the HV lead to 15 before the fourth.
   Holtsclaw and Chambers made a couple of buckets, with the latter cutting Happy Valley's lead to six near the beginning of the fourth. But Whaley hit some key shots late to put it out of reach.
   "It was a real big win," Whaley said. "We knew they were a good team with great shooters and had big posts. We had to keep them off the boards as much as we could and keep our hands in the shooters' faces."
   Jones led Unaka with 18 points, while Chambers and McCann tallied 16 and 12, respectively.
   Rutledge (14 points), Bowman (12), Caldwell (11 ), Carroll and Bulla (10 apiece) added to the Warriors' scoring, showing a great team effort.
   "It feels good to score 80," Carroll said. "Everybody played together and boxed out. We gathered ourselves and picked each other up. We tried to do the best we could and made the tough shots in the end that won it."
   Unaka faces a tough weekend with Science Hill and Tennessee Hill in Johnson City.
   Said Ensor: "Either we show up or we get hammered. There's no way to sugar coat that."
   "If we don't (come ready to play), we're going to see several of these. That's what we deserve," he said. "We don't deserve to cruise through and win a basketball game like that. I didn't build in twenty wins. I don't know, I can't explain it. I wish I could."
   Lady Rangers 57
   Lady Warriors 55
   The Happy Valley Lady Warriors took advantage of missed one-and-one plays from the charity stripe and almost pulled out a victory over Unaka.
   The Lady Rangers held a 15-point lead through the beginning of the fourth quarter, before Happy Valley made an effort towards a win.
   The Tribe closed the gap late, but time wasn't on their side, and a pair of missed threes didn't help their cause.
   "We only lost by two and we played pretty well, but we can still improve so much," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey. "We have to correct some things. It was a nice comeback. I thought we played hard there at the end -- we gave it a shot -- but I'm still disappointed in the way we played on defense."
   "For the most part, I thought we had a bad first quarter and a bad third quarter defensively. We're not disciplined right now and we're not doing things the way we're supposed to do them. That hurt us."
   The Lady Rangers had four players in double digits, led by Jessica Osborne (14 points), who nailed four treys.
   Unaka used strong inside play from Julie Roberson (13 points), Danielle Ensor (13 points) and Tiffany Babb (8 points) to force their inside cause in the first and third quarters, with Coty Townsend (8 rebounds and 8 assists) playing her role well.
   "In two of the three games, we've had at least four in double figures," said Unaka coach Ken Chambers. "It seems like it's been different ones. Our post players came along tonight and Babb stepped in and did a good job."
   "What killed us was foul shots, we missed seven foul shots in the fourth quarter," he said. "That's something we're going to have to work on."
   The Lady Warriors were a little timid at times, but they had a strong all-around game with the entire team contributing.
   Keila Williams led the team with 14 points, while big late buckets gave Mandy Byrd 10. Terra Whaley and Brandi Dugger pulled through with nine points apiece.