Bulldogs rally past Rangers

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

Unaka came out hot Tuesday, but the Hampton Bulldogs had two lead-extinguishing runs to take a 65-47 conference in Stoney Creek.

“We got some steals there and turned up the defense,” said Hampton head coach Ned Smith. “We finally started finishing under the basket.”

Hampton’s Dru Owens led the way for the ’Dogs with 23 points. Owens also had six rebounds on the night.

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The Rangers pushed out to 16-11 lead after the first, before grabbing a 10-point, 25-15, lead halfway through the second. The Bulldogs, however, used an 11-point run in the second the cool down a hot Rangers squad. Hampton took a 29-28 lead into the half after a 3-pointer from Jaydon Livingston.

Unaka’s Isaac Hill was a big part of the Rangers first-half success as he posted eight points in the first two quarters. Rangers Ryan Johnson had six points as he knocked down two 3-pointers to help Unaka keep pace.

The Rangers played with a lot of energy in the first two quarters, and with a high number of younger players, Unaka head coach Aaron Dugger said the Rangers have to play high-tempo to get things done.

“We joke around and say, ‘If you want to scout us, come scout us a five o’ clock,” said Dugger. “We are playing so many young kids. Freshmen. Four or five sophomores. Now, they are too, Hampton is playing young players too. But our young kids have got to play that hard to have a chance.

“We have to work on skill, and to cut down on our turnovers,” added Dugger.

Hampton opened up the third period with 12-1 rally to push on out to a 44-34 lead. Hampton’s Owens worked the nets for seven points in the third while teammate Jordan Bentley helped with five points. Livingston had a 3-pointer in the quarter.

In the fourth, Hampton outscored Unaka 21-13.

Hampton’s Bentley finished the night with 15. Hampton’s Gavin Hardin had nine points, while teammates Jonah Jones, Livingston, and Hunter Davenport all had six.

Hill had 13 points and Johnson posted 12 points for the Rangers. Unaka’s Blake Kings and Austin Drew each had five points.