Rangers do in McCallie


Photo by Kristen Luther
The Lady Rangers' Coty Townsend wrestels for control of the ball.
  
  
  The long and winding road just made a turn for the better Saturday night for the Unaka Rangers.
  Behind a swarming defense that forced several McCallie turnovers, Unaka defeated the Blue Tornadoes 54-49 in the final game of the Climate Controllers Classic. McCallie had knocked off Twin Springs by 20 the night before.
  "It was like the Rangers of old," said Unaka head coach Donald Ensor. "Our kids really got after it on the defensive end."
  McCallie jumped on top 6-3 behind a thunderous two-hand slam by Noah Newman, then Unaka tied the score at 6-6 on a long three by Tyler McCann.
  "Friday night we didn't come out and play hard at all," stated McCann. "We knew McCallie was much bigger and if we didn't get our box outs and play hard, it would be a long night."
  Rusty Holtsclaw made his presence felt with two strong inside moves than cut the lead to one. Derek Cline's runner at the :28 mark gave Unaka a 14-13 lead after one.
  McCallie managed to take a two-point lead on a three-pointer by Lee Hilt. Another Holtsclaw putback helped Unaka retake the lead.
  Unaka got a good boost off the bench from Tee Blevins, who tossed in four points in the quarter. Four free throws by Josh Lowe and a three-point play from McCann helped Unaka to a 30-24 halftime lead.
  Playing the part of the Grinch, Unaka came up with several steals in the third quarter, which frustrated the much taller Blue Tornadoes. This resulted in some easy gift points for Unaka, but unlike the Grinch, the Rangers weren't giving anything in return.
  A downtown three by Josh Lowe followed by a topsy-turvy spin move from Cline upped the margin at 37-27. Joel Bradford's steal and layup sliced the deficit at 39-34 after three.
  Unaka continued its stellar play as Cline nailed a three from the cheap seats, followed by a deuce from McCann. Nine points in the quarter from Cline, including six at the foul line, gave Unaka its biggest win of the season.
  "We saw where we needed to be at in the season against Temple, so we tried to elevate our game tonight," added Cline. "They were much bigger than us so we knew that beating them up would give us an advantage. Everyone seemed to step up tonight."
  Unaka placed three players in double figures, led by McCann with 15. Cline followed with 14, Holtsclaw chipped in 10 and Lowe added nine to the cause.
  "We knew it was time to step up tonight," said Holtsclaw. "We let Temple run us to death on Friday. We competed in every aspect of the game."
  "Our bench came in and did a great job tonight," added Ensor. "Tonight was a big step forward for our basketball team."
  Tennessee Temple 64
  Twin Springs 52
  Twin Springs hopes to fare well in the Arby's Classic but found the going tough in the Climate Controllers Classic at Unaka. Behind 37 points from Caleb Skogans and 16 more from brother Seth, the Crusaders knocked off Twin Springs 64-52 on Saturday.
  Temple broke open a close game late in the third quarter and never looked back. The Titans pulled within six in the fourth quarter, but the two-time defending state champions showed why they are considered shoo-in for a return trip at Murfreesboro.
  Charles Lindholm paced Twin Springs while Tyler Webb added 18.