Jr. Bulldogs drop Unaka in boys' and girls' games

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   A strong finish in the final quarter of action from the Jr. Bulldogs enabled them to come away with a 44-38 victory, after trailing the Rangers at the end of every period, except the one that counted.
   Unaka enjoyed a slim margin for most of the contest, but Hampton came out to start the fourth period with nine unanswered points to secure the win.
   The Bulldogs were missing their head coach Leon Tolley who was out sick, but their assistant Landon Mullins knew all the tricks to help guide them in the end.
   "We switched our defense and started pressuring up, for 'Leon' has done a real good job in preparing them to play this way," said Mullins.
   The Rangers led after the first period of play by the score of 12-10, when Jeff Peters captured several field goals inside.
   Peters led all scores on the night by pouring in 18 points, but the Bulldogs never let Unaka get too far out in front as they kept the game close throughout the first half.
   The Rangers started off the second period with a 12-foot jumper coming from Adam Colbaugh.
   Neither team mounted much offense until the last minute and a half of period with a three-pointer coming from Hampton's Stacy Honeycutt.
   A bucket down-low by Dustin Jaynes off the inbounds pass pulled the Bulldogs to within one point at the break.
   Hampton grabbed the early lead in the third, when Jonathan Scalf made a drive inside the paint, and they increased their lead to four off another three-point goal from Honeycutt.
   Unaka battled back to reassume the lead, after a couple of nice steals and scores from Travis Taylor, along with Tyler Walsh, who converted two shots inside.
   "Hampton has a good team and have some experienced kids out there," said Unaka coach Mark Revis. "The one thing I thought we could have done a better job at was our shot selection."
   The Rangers enjoyed a 31-28 advantage heading into the final quarter, after Peters made a one-on-one drive to finish the third period.
   Jaynes, who led the Bulldogs on the night with eleven points, came out strong to start the fourth by nailing a three-point goal to tie the game.
   "Both teams played hard, and we had some players to really step it up in the final quarter," said Mullins. "I was really pleased with our effort on defense."
   A bucket off a drive down-low and put back from Jarred Irick gave the Bulldogs a six-point lead in the first two and a half minutes.
   It wasn't until the 3:22 mark that the Rangers captured their first basket with a shot inside the paint from Walsh.
   Hampton held on for the remainder of the quarter, as Irick finished with 10 points on the evening, while Walsh poured in eight for the Rangers.
   "We played better tonight than what we did in our last game," said Revis. "The effort was there, but we just couldn't buy a shot at the end."
   Girls
   Unaka 30
   Hampton 41
   The Jr. Lady Bulldogs had a great ending to the second period, and an even more impressive start to the third, as they posted a 41-30 final over the Lady Rangers.
   A 16-1 run that started with two minutes left in the second quarter and carried over in the first two minutes of the third made all the difference with the Rangers' chances at victory.
   "We didn't play that well in the first half and Unaka was making their shots," said Hampton coach Ronnie Street. "We did a much better job in the second half by being more aggressive on defense, but we still missed too many foul shots."
   Hampton jumped out to a 9-6 lead after the first period with a couple of field goals and a free throw coming from Lana Hicks to lead the way.
   Two baskets from Kayleigh Elsea and free throws by Sara Jones kept the Rangers within striking distance during the first.
   All of Unaka's second-quarter points came from the foul line, as they went 10 of 16, but it was the pressure from the Bulldogs late that gave them a 25-16 lead at half-time.
   Mikki Oliver poured in eight of her game-high 16 points to lead the way, and a fast start during the third period saw Hampton increase to 32-16 lead with 4:39 left to play.
   A shot off the glass by Andrea Smith and a couple of baskets on the drive from Oliver forced the Rangers to have to dig their way back out of a huge hole.
   Unaka did not give up though, as a couple of three's from Natalie Johnson and 15-foot jumper by Elsea brought the Rangers back within eight by the end of the period.
   "Most ball games come down to the first two or three minutes of a period, and you can't let them come out and score if they're ahead," said Unaka coach Don Parkey. "We did a good job of coming back and not quitting, and if we would have made our foul shots, then we might have had a chance to win the ball game."
   The Rangers came out striking first in the final period with another outside jumper from the corner by Elsea, who led Unaka on the night with 10 points.
   This was as close as the Rangers came, with a solid performance off the bench by Sara Goodwin, who knocked down a shot down-low and had a three-point goal to ice the game in the closing seconds.
   "We had some girls come in off the bench, and I thought both Kelly Metcalf and Sara Goodwin did a good job for us," said Street. "We made some good passes tonight, but we still have to improve with our rebounding."