A valiant battle… Rangers miracle rally falls shy, 64-62

Published 12:15 am Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Miracle on 34th Street may be the best Christmas miracle ever but on Wednesday night in Bluff City, the Unaka Rangers almost pulled off a miracle win over Sullivan East.
Down three with 4.2 seconds left to play William Sexton, while drawing a double team, nailed a 25-footer to tie the score at 62 as the Rangers had battled back from ten points down with just over three minutes to play.
East’s Dylan Bartley would take the ball the length of the court and hit a lay-up for the 64-62 win.
Just a little over a week ago, East put on a shooting show on the floor at Unaka but on this night the Rangers were ready.
They played hard and fast and held the East sharpshooters to only three treys the entire game but the second chance’s and the big rebounding by Austin Davis kept the Rangers playing behind.

Ryan Johnson would get the Rangers going in the first hitting four three-pointers and leading the Rangers to a 19-14 first-quarter lead.

This was in spite of six turnovers in the first three minutes of play.

Trailing by five it only took the Patriots one minute to regain the lead, 20-19, reeling off seven straight points.  East would go on to take their biggest lead early 29-24, but a Rangers rally saw Sexton hit a free throw to tie the score at 29.
East would lead at the half 32-31.
Unaka hit 18 of 23 free throws and 10 three’s with Johnson connecting on nine of them.  He finished with 32 points.
East pulled out to a ten-point lead 58-48 with 2:59 left to play.
It was then Coach Aaron Dugger called time out and put on the press.
The Rangers didn’t foul near the end, they doubled teamed the ball, and pure hustle forced the Patriot turnovers.
Unaka crashed the boards and was getting two and three shots as it seemed East was finally wearing down.  The full-court pressure and shooting had brought Unaka back within two, 61-59 when they had to foul.
Bartley missed the first free throw but made the second giving East a three-point lead 62-59.
As the teams came back out from a time out with 16 seconds remaining, Johnson had two East players guarding him. With no chance of getting the ball to Johnson and with time running out, Sexton stepped up and shot from long range making the three and tying the score at 62.
Bartley’s coast to coast play gave East the 64-62 win.
As soon as the horn sounded Coach John Dyer congratulated the Ranger players on their hard play and wished them a great season.
Dugger said, “All the kids competed and played hard for four quarters. East made a good play at the end of the game, you have to give them credit.”
Along with Johnson’s 32, Sexton scored 17 for Unaka. East was led by Bartley with 19 while Murray scored 15.
East, 64-62
Unaka   19   12   12   19  -62
East      14   18   15   17  -64
Unaka: Johnson 32, Sexton 17, Whitehead 7, Ramsey 4, Drew 2.
East: Hare 4, Murray 15, Bartley 19, Waldon 6, Montgomery 11, Davis 7.
In the girls’ game, the Lady Rangers looked to be in upset form as well.
MacKenzie Depew nailed two long-range shots and Unaka pulled out to a 13-11 lead before Jenna Hare nailed her first three and gave East a one-point lead 14-13 at the first stop.
From then on, it seemed like Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers could not get a call. Everything was going the other way.

Lyndia Ramsey was moving toward the basket when out of nowhere she was undercut as she left the floor and the call was a charge.
Chambers’s appeal went unrecognized as it appeared that every call went in favor of the home team.
Jada Whitehead scored five for Unaka in the second but East would shoot seven free throws and pull out to a 24-20 halftime lead.
In the third period, Ramsey would hit two three’s and a basket tying the score at 32.  She would be the only girl that would put points on the
board for the Rangers in the final period as the Lady Patriots outscored Unaka 15-9 for a 47-41 win.
Ramsey scored 20-points for Unaka. Whitehead tallied seven points and Macy Ensor had six. East was led by Haley Grubb
with 14. Aubrey and Hare scored 12 points each.
East, 47-32
Unaka  13    7   12    9   -32
East     14   10   8   15   -47

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