Unaka fights illness with win over Huskies

By Wes Holtsclaw

   BAILEYTON -- Although the Unaka Rangers were ill, North Greene couldn't stop Derek Cline or Rusty Chambers.
   The Ranger duo put up 29 and 25 points respectively to help their squad take their second conference victory of the season in a 69-48 decision at the Huskies Den.
   The Rangers dressed nine of their fourteen varsity players, as the bulk of the team was sick. Chambers, Cody Collins and Rusty Holtsclaw also played through high temperatures.
   "It's a big win and a tough place to get one," said Unaka head coach Donald Ensor. "I thought Derek Cline played a solid game at the point. We had nine varsity players out of fourteen. Our bench was at home sick."
   "We played everybody we had. We had to," he said. "It was a pretty solid win, but we're nowhere near what I think we can be. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction."
   Despite feeling sick, Chambers displayed a gutsy performance while he was obviously fatigued on the court.
   "I had to play through it because it was a big game tonight," the senior said. "Coming off a bunch of losses in a big conference game, we knew the crowd was going to be tough and we knew we weren't going to get as many calls."
   North Greene led 11-9 after the first period, behind a strong effort from Matthew Burns. However, once Burns got into foul trouble during the second quarter, the Rangers easily crept into a lead.
   Burns had 21 points to lead North Greene, nine of which came in the first frame.
   Cline and Chambers paced Unaka in the second quarter with a combined 21 of their 23 points. Both players drained three-pointers, taking an lead which they never relinquished.
   "We've been coming off of a bunch of losses and we wanted to come in here, establish our plan and get things done," Cline said. "We needed to get this thing started right, we had Clinch, but we needed to get a big game under our belt."
   Clay Finley commanded most of the offense for the Huskies while Burns sat on the bench. Along with Matt Ormsbee and Daniel Middleton, he helped his squad bounce inside of Unaka's ten point lead in the third quarter.
   But Cline and Chambers dropped more treys and Unaka held an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter.
   Tyler McCann, Holtsclaw and Collins all added buckets to the Rangers' 25 point quarter, with another back-to-back series of trifectas from the scoring duo to put the game out of contention.
   A total of 50 fouls were called during the contest, which seemed to slow the pace of the game.
   NORTH GREENE (Girls) 53
   UNAKA 46
   An eleven to one foul differential in the first half, combined with the absence of key players kept the Unaka Lady Rangers down Friday night.
   Taking a five-point lead after the first quarter, North Greene went on a 20-7 run due to free throws and possession off fouls to help sustain enough momentum to pull out a victory.
   Unaka battled back in the second half, but three starters, Renee Ensor, Coty Townsend and Jule Roberson were all fouled out in the second half.
   "We've got three girls out, one starter and one sixth man," said Unaka coach Ken Chambers. "It hurts when everybody else is fouling and they're calling fouls on everybody. At one time, we had three freshmen on the floor and two sophomores. That's the way it goes, you have to be ready for any situation."
   It was a 24 to 8 differential at the end of the contest.
   The bulk of North Greene's fouls came in the third quarter when Unaka used treys from Ensor and Townsend to tie the game at 39 going into the final frame.
   However, Roberson, who was tough inside with ten points, fouled out first. The defensive Townsend followed and the Lady Huskies were tough for Tiffanie Babb, Danielle Ensor and Lacey Gouge to control late.
   "We couldn't play very much without somebody calling a foul. I don't know the numbers, I didn't see it," the coach said. "We should've come to play, but that's okay. We're fine. When we get everybody healthy again, we'll be ready to roll."
   To the Lady Huskies' credit, they made 20 of their 25 free throws in the game and made big buckets in the clutch when they needed them.
   Haley Williams (13 points) and Ashlan Hopson knocked down a combined five treys in the final three quarters, with Williams making the free throws that sealed the deal.
   North Greene outscored Unaka 14-7 in the final stanza.
   Chelsea Wright and Kimberley Wilcox contributed 11 and 14 points respectively for their squad.
   Renee Ensor led the Lady Rangers with 12 points, while Babb added nine.