#CREEKRISING: Lady Rangers knock off Tellico Plains to earn state bid

Published 10:11 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018


When push comes to shove, Stoney Creek knows how to ‘rise’ to the occasion.

Unaka received a team-high 14 points from Lexi Garland and relied on a lockdown defensive effort inside Snavely Gymnasium to earn a 53-45 win over Tellico Plains during TSSAA Class A Sectional Saturday night to earn a trip to next week’s state tournament in Murfreesboro, a first for the girls’ program since 2004.

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“I’m just so proud of our girls, they hung in there tonight,” said Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers. “Tellico is one of the better teams we’ve played this year. Our girls just kept battling and fighting the entire night.”

Unaka (27-10) jumped out to an early 17-8 in front of a raucous crowd but saw the lead quickly evaporate heading into halftime with the Lady Bears knotting things up 30-30. Tellico was able to ride a game-high 20-point effort from Callie Kirkpatrick, who helped spearhead the charge.

“We had a fouling problem there early on,” Chambers said. “(Tellico) has some great ball players, we were having a hard time defending (Kirkpatrick).”

But the tale of the Stoney Creek second-half comebacks earned a few more pages with the Lady Rangers holding Tellico in scoreless in the first six minutes of the third. Both teams were at a stalemate heading into the fourth, 37-37, before Lady Ranger Sarah Tipton helped usher a 16-6 stretch in the fourth to help secure the victory.

With the Ranger faithful storming the court postgame, Garland was quick to break a smile celebrating with friends and family. The senior was banged up early in the contest but was able to return to the game and finish with double-figure scoring. Smiling ear-to-ear, Garland was also greeted with cheers of “MVP” as she scaled the ladder to cut down a piece of the net.

“I got to see my friend do it last year, it’s so great,” Garland said. “It’s hard to explain (getting hurt in the first half). It was hard coming out, but I knew my team would keep playing tough.”

The never-give-up attitude is nothing out of the ordinary for the team, according to Chambers. Prior to Saturday’s contest, the Lady Rangers embarked with tightly-contest games in the postseason against Cosby and Cloudland.

“We’ve been in situations like that all year long,” he said. “We’ve played a tough schedule schedule and our girls were ready. Lexi is one of our seniors and played great. Sarah also came up big for us. Sydney (Markland) came off the bench and gave us some quality minutes. I’m just proud of the all the girls and their effort.”

Mayah Parlier tallied 12 points for Unaka while Sarah and her sister, Savannah Tipton, finished with nine each while Erika Potter dropped six points and Markland tacked on three.

Now Unaka plays the waiting game as the drawing for tournament gets underway Sunday.

For more from Saturday’s contest, be sure to pick up the Tuesday edition of the Elizabethton Star.