Volunteer second half surge sinks Rangers

Published 11:33 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023

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BLUFF CITY – Volunteer got 18 points from freshman Griffin Head and cruised to a victory over Unaka in the ninth annual Food City Thanksgiving Classic played at Sullivan East High School.

With Unaka leading 29-27 in the third period, the Falcons went on a 14-point run to end the third quarter and the opening of the fourth quarter to take a 54-45 victory.

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“You can’t turn over the basketball,” Rangers head coach Aaron Dugger said. “Plain and simple, take care of the ball. That’s the stuff we did this summer, and it’s the stuff we have been doing in preseason, and until we start taking care of the ball like it means something, it’s going to be hard to win.”

The Rangers (1-3 overall) trailed 10-8 after the first period but rallied to take a 20-18 lead into the halftime break, with freshman John Hardin scoring eight of his team-high 13 points in the first half. Senior Marcus Shomaker added seven of his 10 points in the first half as well.

“The future looks bright with our young guys, but the players have got to stop making the same mistakes,” Dugger said.

In the third period, the game continued to be a see-saw affair, with Unaka taking a 29-27 lead with 2:04 left, when the Rangers’ turnover issues helped the Falcons go on their 14-point run.

Volunteer took a 37-29 lead into the fourth quarter and saw Owen Tullock and Head each score a bucket to make it a 41-29 advantage. A bucket in the paint from Hardin stopped the bleeding, but the Rangers were not able to go on a significant run to help close the gap.

The Rangers were finally able to connect on long-range shots, with Logan Lewis hitting a pair of treys, and Mason Wilson hit one also, but it was too little, too late. The Rangers shot just three-for-14 (21.4 percent) from range.



Sullivan East High School

Volunteer 54-45

Unaka (45)

Wilson 12, Crabtree 2, Lewis 6, J. Deyton 2, Shomaker 10, Hardin 13.

Volunteer (54)

Feagins 3, Cox 3, Tullock 12, Amyx 5, Head 18, Miller 4, McLain 6, Gilliam 3.

Unaka 8 12 9 16 – 45

Volunteer 10 8 20 16 – 54

3-point shots: U 3 (Lewis 2, Wilson 1) V 4 (Head 3, Tullock 1)