Lady Rangers unable to derail Lady Rangers


photo by Kristen Luther
Hampton's Heather Chambers scoots around Unaka's Julie Roberson to drive the baseline.
 
  
  In a game that featured two of East Tennessee elite girls basketball coaches, Unaka held off Hampton 59-49 in the Climate Controllers Classic Saturday night at Unaka High School.
  The game was closer than a newlywed couple on their honeymoon in the first quarter as neither team could pry away from one another.
  Danielle Ensor and Jessica Osborne gave Unaka a 4-0 lead on back-to-back hoops, but Hampton tied the score on buckets from Heather Chambers and Lauren Pitman.
  Jessi Price and Tiffany Babb swapped deuces before a steal and layin by Osborne gave Unaka a two-point advantage. Chambers sliced her way through the Ranger defense for two, but a three by Osborne and a bank shot by Julie Roberson helped Unaka gain a 13-10 first quarter lead.
  "I thought our guards (Ensor and Osborne) stepped up and play well tonight," said Unaka coach Kenneth Chambers. "They did a good job of penetrating allowing us to get some easy shots."
  Osborne continued her hot hand knocking down a jumper while Renee Ensor added a layin giving Unaka a 15-10 lead. The Rangers extended the margin at 20-13, but a three-point play from Chambers kept Hampton within four at 20-16.
  Roberson added a jumper that pushed the advantage to six before buckets from Pam Montgomery and Lacey Oliver edged Hampton closer at 22-20 with 1:30 remaining.
  A three-point play by Babb and two free throws from Megan Johnson put Unaka up by seven. Danielle Gilbert and Chambers led a surge that got Hampton within one, but a Renee Ensor jumper at the buzzer resulted in a 29-26 Ranger lead at intermission.
  Like a bottle of soda pop placed inside a freezer, the Rangers burst open in the third and the result proved to be a sticky mess for Hampton. Coty Townsend caught fire with a deuce followed by a long three, giving Unaka a 36-28 lead.
  Osborne's third trey of the game gave the Rangers a 11-point cushion. However, a jumper by Oliver kept Hampton within nine at 39-30. Unaka used a 9-1 spurt late in the quarter led by Danielle Ensor's three point play to take a 48-33 lead after three.
  Babb opened the fourth with a strong post move and bucket, giving Unaka its biggest lead at 17. Hampton refused to fold thanks to a three by Pitman and six points off the bench by Andrea Tinsman.
  A three by Townsend and several key free throws down the stretch helped Unaka earn its 10 win of the season against only one loss.
  Osborne led the way with 16 points while Townsend followed with 10. Unaka got good balance in scoring, with Danielle Ensor collecting nine, Roberson eight while Renee Ensor and Babb added seven each.
  Chambers, Pitman and Price each had 10 for the Dogs.
  "We had our chances," stated Bulldogs coach Leslie Campbell. "We missed some free throws that kept us from getting back into the game.
  "We had good balance in our scoring and this was a key. We allowed then only two three pointers which I felt like we had to do in order to win."
  Johnson County 50
  Cloudland 45
  In a game that saw a gigantic free-throw differential, Johnson County scored over half its points from the charity stripe to outlast Cloudland 50-45. The Longhorns shot 28-of-41 for the game while Cloudland managed only eight trips to the stripe.
  The Longhorns raced to a 6-0 lead led by Ashley Howard and April McCloud and maintained an 8-4 advantage after one. Kayla Blevins scored the only points in the quarter for Cloudland.
  Cloudland tried to overcome foul problems in the second quarter. Heather Banner's baseline jumper followed by a three from Keshia Miller tied the score at nine. Jessica Lunsford collected two treys in the quarter as the game stayed close throughout.
  The Highlanders got an awesome performance off the bench from Jessica Ledford, whose four points at the end of the half gave Cloudland a 19-18 lead at the half.
  Like a pendulum on a clock the lead swung back and forth in the third as neither team could pull away from the other. Lunsford kept Cloudland close with eight points in the period but Howard, McCloud and Jenny Tugman knocked down key shots, helping Johnson County lead 34-33 after three.
  Led by Tugman, the 'Horns vaulted to seven-point advantage, but Cloudland battled back to retake the lead. Baskets by Jessica Mathies, Whitney Houston and Banner gave Cloudland its last lead, at 41-40, with 4:25 remaining.
  From there the Longhorns shot an amazing 13-of-18 at the foul line, which proved to be too much for the Highlanders to overcome.
  Lunsford led the Highlanders with 14 while Mathies added eight to the cause.
  Johnson County placed three players in double figures, led by McCloud with 14, Tugman 13, while Howard added 11. Billie Hurd turned in good game, collecting nine.