Lady Rangers fend off North Hurricanes steal one from Unaka boys

  Florence Nightingale is remembered as the pioneer of nursing. Ranger head coach Kenneth Chambers might soon need her services as assistant coach and trainer.
  Minus leading scorer Jessica Osborne, all state center Julie Roberson and 6'0 center Erica Babb Unaka displayed a gutty effort by knocking off Sullivan North 52-39 in the Volunteer Classic. Unaka boys dropped a heartbreaking 56-54 loss at the hands of Morristown East.
   Osborne missed her second game with a ankle sprain while Babb was sidelined with the flu. Roberson injured her arm in an automobile accident Tuesday and will be out indefinitely.
  "It was a gutty effort by our entire team," stated Ranger head coach Kenneth Chambers. "We had several players step up and play well."
  Unaka fell behind 11-6 after the first quarter but came roaring back like a mad lion with an infected wisdom tooth. Behind five points each from Sallee Taylor and Coty Townsend and four more from Renee Ensor Unaka outscored North 16-8 to take a 22-19 lead at intermission.
  "I felt like we could pressure them early in the game but because of only eight players we couldn't afford to get into foul trouble." "We wanted to press them full court in the second half."
  The Rangers defense got relentless in the third period, sticking to the North like bubble gum on hot pavement during a hot July afternoon. Meanwhile the offense stood out like red kool-aid spilled on beige carpet.
  Going on a 14-1 run sparked by two steal each from Renee Ensor and Lacey Gouge the Rangers opened up a 36-26 lead after three. "We knew our seniors had to step up and play well but players like Megan and Sallee gave us the lift we needed," stated Renee Ensor.
  North started a run early in the fourth after Lindsey Collins knocked down a jumper that pulled the Golden Radiers within three at 38-35.
  The turning point of the game came when Danielle Ensor sliced her way through the North defense for a three-point play to up the Ranger lead at 41-35. Gouge followed with a three off the wing capped off by another three-ball from the corner from Townsend that gave Unaka a 12-point cushion at 47-35.
  Another Danielle Ensor followed by free throws from Megan Johnson and Kelly Allen silenced the Golden Radier crowd like Sleeping Beauty in a coma.
  Townsend led the Rangers with 14 followed by the Ensor connection, Renee and Danielle with 12 and 11 respectively. Gouge had a super outing scoring five point while collecting several key rebounds and steals during the Ranger run in the third quarter.
  "I thought our seniors stepped up and played super tonight," added Chambers. "Renee (Ensor) took the ball through their press all night while Danielle, Lacey and Coty hit big shots during that run."
  "Players like Sallee Taylor, Megan Johnson, Kelly Allen and Emily Asher played well off the bench and this was a key." "Hopefully we can hang in there and play well until everyone gets back healthy."
  Unaka will play Volunteer in the championship game Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.
  Morristown East 56-54
  Just like a houdini Morristown East escaped with a two-point win after stealing the game in the final seconds against the Unaka Rangers. Tyler McCann's three-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim after Unaka held a four point margin with under two minutes to go.
  "We were dead headed and star craving and the mistakes we were making theirs no excuse for," stated Ranger head coach Donald Ensor. "We didn't deserve to win this basketball game and was lucky to win the one last night."
  East jumped out to an 6-2 lead but Unaka battled back after McCann and Chase Reeves were able to knock down jumpers to knot the score at 8-8. The Hurricanes behind two baskets from Jerry Harris pushed the lead at 12-8 but a three-point play from Rusty Holtsclaw cut the margin at 12-11 after one period of play.
  East started the second quarter on a 7-0 run before Unaka scored its first points on a jumper by Derek Cline at the 6:11 mark. The Hurricanes extended the margin at 24-13 before the Rangers started to mount a comeback.
  Buckets by Reeves and Cline sliced the lead at six followed by a off-balanced leaner from Aaron Greer that closed the gap at 24-21. East led by seven until a deuce by Holtsclaw and two free throws from Greer whittled the lead to 28-25 at intermission.
  The Hurricanes held a 32-29 until Andrew Church buried a three at the 3:45 mark to tie the score at 32-32. Five consecutive points from Cline including a trey gave Unaka a 37-32 lead. Unaka managed a 44-40 advantage at the end of three thanks to deuces from Holtsclaw and McCann.
  "Andrew (Church) came off the bench and played really well stated Ensor. "He was the only player who came ready and played inspired basketball."
  East rode the outstanding play of sophomore sensation Kent Basile who had 12 of his game high 22 points in the fourth quarter to stay within striking distance of the Rangers.
  A long three by Reeves gave Unaka its largest lead at 47-40. Another three by McInturff kept the lead at 54-50 after East had cut the lead to one. The Hurricanes decided to give Unaka its television version of its takes a thief.
  Back-to-back steals and buckets by Basile tied the score at 54-54. With .14 second remaining Daniel Deaderich managed another steal at mid-court and race the distance for a layup giving East a 56-54 lead.
  Unaka called timeout and ran the last play to perfection to get the shot they wanted but McCann shot was a tad to long and East escaped with the win.
  Holtsclaw tallied 15 to lead the Rangers while Cline followed with 14. Basile led all scorers with 22.
  "They beat us up and down the floor and our senior leadership is not where it needs to be right now, added Ensor." "They got to have their priorities right and right now we play like a team that don't have it's priorities right."
  Unaka will play in the consolation game Wednesday at 5:30.