Lady Rangers hold off Volunteer

Photo by Erica Yoon
Unaka’s Coty Townsend works around Volunteer’s Meghan Arnold in Wednesday’s championship game at the Volunteer Tourney.

  CHURCH HILL--Kenneth Chambers didn't pull a rabbit out of his hat last night but the Lady Ranger basketball coach had plenty of tricks up his sleeve for Volunteer. Despite the absence of Julie Roberson, Jessica Osborne and Tiffany Babb, the Rangers captured the Pizza Plus/Coca Cola Classic with a thrilling 55-53 overtime win over the Falcons last night to claim the first place prize.
   "I am so proud of what this team has accomplished these past three days," stated Chambers. "It was a total team effort."
  Volunteer jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Danielle Ensor put Unaka on the board with a jumper inside the paint. The Falcons got six points in the quarter from Stevie Caldwell but two treys from Coty Townsend and Megan Johnson cut the margin at 12-8 after one.
  Unaka mounted a comeback during the second period thanks to five points each from Johnson and Danielle Ensor to build a 27-21 advantage. Renee Ensor contributed three steals and two buckets while Townsend connection on her second trey of the game.
  Volunteer closed within three when Ashley Bennett connected from the key that carved the lead to 27-24 at intermission.
  Johnson pushed Unaka's lead to 30-24 with her third trey of the game. The 'Creekers built a 32-27 advantage at the 5:20 mark after another Danielle Ensor post move.
  "I knew several of our good players were out so I needed to step up and help this team," stated Johnson. "I was looking to score and everyone did a good job of getting me the ball."
  The Falcons mounted a 12-0 run behind the stellar play of Caldwell and Morghan Arnold to take a 39-32 lead. Townsend's trey at the buzzer closed the gap at 39-35 after three.
   Throughout the four quarter, the game got tighter than a fat man in spandex as Unaka tied the score on consecutive hoops by Danielle Ensor and Townsend. Volunteer took a 43-42 lead but Johnson nailed her fourth trey of the contest giving Unaka a 45-43 cushion.
  Volunteer took a two-point lead but Renee Ensor drive at the .50 second mark tied the score at 47-47. Unaka got a chance to win in regulation but Renee Ensor bank shot rolled off the rim to force overtime.
  After Arnold fouled out Unaka took advantage of the middle scoring two baskets in the paint. Key free throws by Renee Ensor, Townsend and Sallee Taylor iced the game for the Rangers.
  Johnson turned in a stellar performance scoring 14 points to lead a well-balanced Ranger attack while Townsend and Danielle Ensor had 13 each. Renee Ensor chipped in with 11 giving Unaka four players in double figures.
  Caldwell had a game 23 to lead Volunteer while Morghan Arnold followed with 18.
  Danielle and Renee Ensor and Johnson were named to the all-tournament team. Townsend took the Most Valuable Player award.
  "I think everyone step up with being we had guards and post players out," stated Townsend. "I think we showed people how much depth we have and that we have a really good basketball team."
  "It was a big lift having Julie and Jessie sit on the bench and cheer these girls on," added Chambers. "Megan had a super game as did Danielle, Coty and Renee. Lacey really got after it on the defensive end."
  "Games like this will help us depth wise. I am well pleased with the win."
  Boys Unaka 45-40

Photo by Erica Yoon
Ranger Paul Waters makes a move around Volunteer’s Chad Browder.

  If its better to win ugly than lose pretty then Unaka victory over Volunteer must have looked like yours truly in a bikini. Outscoring Volunteer 12-5 in the fourth quarter Uanka knocked off Volunteer 45-40 capturing third place in the Pizza Plus/Coca Cola Classic.
  Volunteer jumped out to a seven point lead thanks to six point from Jason Potter and a three by Keith Cradic. Unaka got a basket from Chase Reeves and a jumper at the buzzer by Aaron Greer to cut the lead at 13-10 after one.
  The Falcons rode the play of freshman Cradic to take a nine point lead at the 3:45 mark in the second quarter. Five points by Rusty Holtsclaw kept Unaka within six at halftime.
  The Rangers pulled within 26-25 on a Josh Lowe putback and a Tyler McCann jumper. McCann continued to shine with another jumper giving Unaka a 27-26 advantage.
  "I knew if we stepped it up on the defensive end the offense would take care of itself," added McCann. "We tied to use different combinations during the tournament so we could get some of the younger players ready for conference play."
  Volunteer used a 5-0 run to retake the lead but a three by Greer sliced the gap to 31-30 at the 2:55 mark. Tee Blevins' layup late in the third helped tie the score at 33-33 after three.
  Unaka needed a big play to start the fourth and Derek Cline delivered with a three from the corner to push the gap at 36-33. Unaka maintained a slim advantage until Cradic's goal with 2:40 remaining gave Volunteer its last lead at 40-39.
  Lowe's jumper followed by two Cline free throws helped the Rangers to a 43-40 margin with .24 second remaining. Volunteer elected to go for the last shot but a fantastic play by Cline at the .06 second mark resulted in a steal and layup giving Unaka a 45-40 win.
  "I saw him look my way so I just tried to jump and get the pass," added Cline. "I thought he was going to throw it much higher than he did."
  "We really needed this win. We got a tough conference game at UH next week."
  Holtsclaw was the only Ranger in double figures with 10 while Cline and McCann tossed in nine each. "I'm not satisfied with the way we played at anytime during this tournament," stated Uanka head coach Donald Ensor.
  "I told our seniors that the conference schedule started next week and I expect them to have this team ready to play. We got to get back to playing Ranger basketball."