Eagles escape clutches of Rangers late

Published 8:52 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

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On a night set aside to remember the 2003-2004 Class 1-A State Champion Unaka Rangers, the present group of Rangers were looking to put a feather in their cap by defeating the visiting Cosby Eagles.

The game at times wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty doggone exciting as the Rangers battled their hearts out before coming up on the short end of the stick in a 67-58 defeat at the hands of the visiting Eagles.

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Cosby jumped out quickly to a pretty good lead before the Rangers settled and began to battle back into the contest.

The Eagles led at the end of the first horn, 23-17, as they utilized the baseline drive for some easy buckets while Mack Holt filled the basket for eight points from the eight to ten-foot perimeter from the basket.

Mason Wilson hit for five in the opening quarter to pace the Rangers with freshman big man John Hardin hitting for four points while cleaning the glass for the home squad.

The Eagle lead remained eight at the break as Cosby continued to force the Rangers into turnovers equating to several easy layins.

Holt added four more to his first-quarter tally to Cosby with 12 at the break. Cruz Cassius and Haiden Mchala each contributed seven.

The Rangers looked inside in the quarter as Hardin continued to dominate at the rim finishing with 12 in the first half to match Holt. Logan Lewis hit for five points as well for Coach Aaron Dugger’s Rangers.

Unaka came out of the locker room and sliced five points off the Eagles lead in the third quarter outscoring the visitors 13-8 behind four each from Hardin and Austin Lambert for the Rangers.

Behind a quick outburst, the Rangers pulled even early in the fourth quarter before the Eagles once again forced the Rangers into timely turnovers to retake the lead.

Running almost three minutes off the clock late in the quarter, the Eagles benefited from Unaka having to foul in an attempt to overcome the deficit.

Three players reached double figures for the Eagles led by Holt’s team-high 17 points. Cassius finished his night with 13 while Peyton Raines drilled three treys in the fourth to finish with 11.

Hardin finished with a game-high 22 points for Unaka. Wilson was the only other Ranger in double figures with 12. Lambert ended his evening with nine points while Connor McKinney and Lewis contributed five points apiece.

Aiden Walsh added four with Jackson Deyton finishing off the scoring by hitting 1-of-2 from the charity stripe.