Unaka topples Warriors in overtime

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, January 22, 2015

By Allen LaMountain

On Thursday night at Bayless gym, the Unaka Rangers took a giant step forward in their growth as a team with a stunning 82-79 overtime win over Happy Valley to spoil senior night for the Warriors.

Guards Joe Searfoss and Kyler Lewis led the way with 28 points apiece and rallied from 10 points down with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.

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“This bunch has played hard four of the last five games,” said Rangers head coach Aaron Dugger, “They didn’t quit and that’s a testament to the upperclassmen. We kept battling and fighting and they are starting to trust in one another.”

After trailing by six in the first quarter Unaka rallied to take a 27-25 halftime advantage. HV (7-16 overall) got off to a hot start with senior post Corey Matherly knocking down an early trey as the Warriors led 16-10 after one period was in the books.

Searfoss ignited the Rangers (5-17) with nine first half points with Lewis chipping in with eight. The scoring pace picked up in the second half with HV outscoring Unaka 25-19 in the third period to take a 50-46 lead into the final period.

A trey from Sam Blevins gave HV some breathing room in the third period as the Warriors took a 48-42 lead after six lead changes in the stanza. Matherly got hot in the period for HV with three triples to give him 18 points at the time.

He finished with a team high 24 points.

“We didn’t do a good job on their cutters in the lane,” said HV head coach Chuck Babb. “Give Unaka credit, their kids have been through a tough year and they made more plays than we did.”

HV extended its lead to eight on a basket from Blevins with 4:14 left in regulation. He then hit a pair of free throws but Lewis answered with a trey at the other end to make it a 62-55 contest.

Unaka cut the HV lead to 69-66 on a three point play from Lewis and a bucket by Searfoss with 1:12 left in the period. A deuce from Searfoss with one second left sent the game into overtime tied at 75.

“This is a big rivalry game and me and Kyler just kept at it,” Searfoss said. “We just put our minds together and we were desperate for a win. We were so hungry for a win, we haven’t won much this season but maybe we turned a corner with this win.”

In overtime Unaka scored the first four points on a bucket from Travis Overdorf and free throws by Searfoss to take a 79-75 lead with 2:02 left. HV got a bucket from Nathan Kyte and another from Blevins to close to within 80-79 with 30 seconds left.

Kyte missed both free throws with 3.5 seconds left and Searfoss grabbed the rebound and hit both free throws to secure the win.

“We needed something to get us going and this was huge,” Lewis said. “We have been through a lot as a team and hopefully this gets us going.”


Happy Valley 54

Unaka             36

After spotting Unaka a first quarter lead, Happy Valley switched to a full court press defense, and unleashed junior post Kalee Johnson.

Johnson scored 14 of her game high 27 points in the second quarter as Happy Valley (16-7 overall) took a 54-36 decision from the Lady Rangers.

“The first quarter we had a slow start,” Johnson said. “Once we started trapping we turned up the pressure and got some good steals. I just wanted to have a good game and win this for the seniors. I didn’t want to let them down on senior night.”

Johnson finished with 12 rebounds and five steals to complete her double double.

The Lady Warriors press forced 12 Unaka turnovers in the first half and jump started a poor shooting offense. In the first half HV shot seven-for-23 (30.4 percent) while forcing the Rangers into a four-for-19 (21.0 percent) shooting first half.

The turnover trend continued for Unaka (6-13) into the third period as HV extended its lead to 30-17 at the 4:43 mark of the period. Jenna Eaton knocked down a pair of long range shots as the Warriors opened the third period with a 15-3 run.

HV opened a 41-31 lead at the 3:57 mark of the fourth period on a bucket by Johnson but Hannah Tipton answered with a pair of free throws for Unaka. The Rangers could not close the gap in the final minutes as the Warriors closed the game with a bucket by Annie Woods.

For the game HV forced 27 turnovers and senior Jenna Eaton finished with 14 points to back Johnson’s efforts.

Tipton scored a team high 19 for Unaka.



Unaka (36)

  1. Tipton  1, H.Tipton 19, Drew 4, Burrow 2, Weaver 2, Wright 4, Austin 4.

Happy Valley (54)

Woods 5,  Eaton 14, Street 4, Johnson 27, Faataui 2, Davis 2.

Unaka                 7   7   8 13 – 36

Happy Valley      3 17 17 17 – 54

3-point goals: U 2 (H. Tipton 2), HV 2 (Eaton 2)



Unaka 82-79 (OT)

Unaka (82)

Searfoss 28, Lewis 28, Overdorf 16, Davenport 6, Wright 2.

Happy Valley (79)

Hyder 4, Hammonds 7, Torbett 6, Hicks 5, Pate 2, Barnett 4, Matherly 24, Blevins 11, Barlow 4.

Unaka                 10 17 19 29

Happy Valley      16  9  25 25

3-point goals: U 3 (Lewis 2, Searfoss 1), HV 6 (Matherly 4, Blevins 1, Hammonds 1)