Unaka senior boys playing last home game Thursday

Published 12:12 am Thursday, February 13, 2020

Five Seniors will be playing their last game at home on Friday night of the 2019-20 season.  One senior,  Daniel Ensor, exited early
with a knee injury causing him to miss his final year.
“It really hurt losing Daniel,” said Ranger head coach Aaron Dugger. “We had to adjust personal and move players around that weren’t normally playing where he was, so that was tough asking those kids to play a position that they weren’t used to playing.”

Unaka opened up the season on a great note winning three of their first four games losing only to Sullivan East while beating a tough Central team.
The following week Unaka almost got East at their place tying the score with five seconds left only to lose 64-62. It seems like that set the tone for the entire season in every game just losing in the final seconds.
“We lost to Cosby by four, we lost to Cloudland by three – both games we missed 12 free throws,” said Coach Dugger. “We’ve been in almost every game.”

It was then off to a  four-game road trip before beating Happy Valley 64-49 back on the creek. They would win one of two games in the Christmas Tournament – a 38-35 win over Rockwood and dropping a 65-61 loss to Meigs County.
Junior Will Sexton almost broke a nearly 50-year old record set by Eddie Holly in 1971, scoring 42 points at University High.
Unaka lost the game but avenged that loss with a 53-50 win at home. The Rangers played Cloudland two tough games losing 56-52 and 63-60 in Roan Mountain.
They gave Cosby, one of the toughest teams in the state, all they wanted losing by four, 70-66, but was within one with twelve seconds remaining on the free-throw line to tie the score.
Senior Ryan Johnson set a school record in his first game as a hitting ten three-pointers.
“I have put a lot of time in to become a better shooter,” said Johnson.  “I wanted to be one of the best shooters in the conference.”
Johnson had made Sexton and senior Dylan Whitehead better players by drawing attention to his self this season.

After hitting ten three’s in a game, coaches keyed on that and most of the season Johnson has been double-teamed.
“I have had a lot of support this year, we’re going to Boone and that’s a different setting, and it’s
a shooters gym,” added Johnson.

Dylan stated, “this game means everything to seniors. I have played three years and this is the last time to step on the court at
“Last season I paid a lot of attention to John Boy Ramsey and he helped me focus. I’m looking forward to playing at Daniel Boone in
the tournament we always play good there.”
Whitehead has become a great leader for the Rangers and has shown his ability to take the ball to the basket and hit shots even when being fouled.
That’s one thing hard for a coach to teach.
Nolan Bradley hasn’t got to play much this year but he enjoys his time with the team.
“I’m not a good player but I love being on the team, these guys are like my brothers,” said Nolan. “Ryan Johnson is an
amazing shooter and playing with guys like him is what I love to do, I look for us to go deep in the district tournament.”

Austin Drew is like the “Stone Cold Steve Austin” of the team as he plays hard and expects to win every game. He never gives up and leaves the floor with 100 percent left on the court.
“It’s been a rocky season but we have all stuck together,” said Drew. “Most of our games have been within four points and we still have a chance to go far in the tournament.”
Coach Dugger added, “every kid on this team made a commitment. Dylan improved more than any kid I ever coached.  He worked hard on his
jumping ability during the offseason and many times he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
“He leads us in rebounding and is in the top ten in Northeast Tennessee.”
Unaka will host North Green on Thursday before playing at Happy Valley on Friday night to end their regular season.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox