One down, two to go: Lady Rangers down Wartburg in state quarterfinals

Published 3:30 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Creek is still rising.
The Unaka Lady Rangers used some second-half grit Thursday as they defeated Wartburg Central High School 61-54 during the TSSAA Class A State Quarterfinals in Murfreesboro on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
The victory marked the Lady Rangers’ first state tournament win in program history.
“It means the world,” said Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers. “I have been down here a couple times but we were not able to get to the next level. It is an honor to be down here. We find ways to make things happen. We have been behind in a lot of games during the tournaments. We don’t give up. The kids don’t give up and have a lot of fight in them.”
With the win, the Lady Rangers (28-9) will now face off with Summertown (31-2) in the semifinals Friday at 2:45 CST, 3:45 EST.
The Lady Rangers saw four players reach double-digits Thursday as Unaka’s Myah Parlier racked up a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds.
“The guards worked really hard to get me the ball,” said Parlier. “That was the only reason I scored.”
Unaka’s Sarah Tipton (12 points, six assists), Savannah Tipton, (11 points), and Erika Potter (10 points) all contributed to the Lady Rangers cause. Lady Rangers Lexi Garland and Sydney Markland finished with seven and five points, respectively.
Coming into the fourth period, Wartburg held a 42-41 lead over Unaka before the Lady Bulldogs expanded their edge to five points, 48-43, with 5:03 left to play. The Lady Rangers, however, would slowly regain momentum before a jumper from Potter gave Unaka a 49-48 lead with 3:26 left on the clock. The Lady Rangers went 12-of-12 from the foul line in the fourth to keep the Lady Bulldogs at bay. Savannah Tipton finished the game going 8-of-8 in foul shots while the Lady Rangers were 18-of-19 overall.
“We are up and down on foul shots sometimes,” said Chambers. “In the tournaments, we have really stepped up . . . I have told them all year long to win big ball games you have to hit foul shots, layups, take care of the ball, and rebound. I thought we did a really good job of that. Foul shots were awesome.”
On the boards, the Lady Rangers outrebounded Wartburg 35-to-24 in the game. Unaka lost its top rebounder, Parlier, in the fourth due to fouls, but Unaka had other players step up and fill the void, said Chambers.
“Myah usually gets most of our rebounds,” said Chambers. “Even with her out of the game, I really feel like Sydney Markland really stepped in and played good.”
After one, the Lady Rangers led Wartburg 12-10 after a jumper from Potter in the last six seconds of the period. Sarah Tipton knocked down two 3-pointers in the first as she posted eight points to help the Lady Rangers take an early lead. Tipton said that playing at the state tournament level took some getting used to.
“It was definitely a lot different with a bigger crowd and stuff,” said Tipton. “We were a little nervous. I had faith in my team. They always pull through.”
The Lady Rangers took a 29-23 lead into intermission after Tipton and Garland had eight and seven points, respectively, in the first two quarters. Potter and Parlier chipped in with four apiece while Markland and Savannah Tipton had three each.
A win Friday against Summertown would advance the Lady Rangers to the state championship game where they would face the winner of Greenfield and Huntingdon Saturday.

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