The Unaka boys basketball wasn’t going to be denied.
The Rangers extended their season with a 56-49 victory over Jellico, who was the No. 2 seed from District 2, in the Region 1-A quarterfinals in Jellico on Saturday night.
With the win, Unaka advances to the Region 1-A Quarterfinals against University High on Wednesday night with a berth in the substate game on the line.
In Jellico, it was a battle from the opening tip.
Unaka took an early 10-7 lead with back-to-back 3-pointers, and used a late 5-0 run to take a 15-10 advantage into the second quarter.
Ryan Johnson and Isaac Hill had big quarters for the Rangers in the second stanza as the duo combined for a 10 points. After Jellico used a run to take a 21-20 lead in the period, Unaka edged ahead to take a 27-24 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Jellico jumped back to a slim lead after Unaka went scoreless for the first four minutes of the quarter. The Rangers, however, saw Will Sexton and John Ramsey hit shots to propel the Rangers to a 34-31 advantage with eight minutes to play.
After Jellico closed the gap back to one point, the Rangers reeled off a 7-2 run to take a six-point lead midway through the quarter. The Blue Devils hit shots to close the gap in the final minutes.- including within two points – but Unaka took care of business down the stretch to secure the win and move on in Region 1-A tournament.
Johnson and Hill led the way with 18 points, while Ramsey tallied 14 points in the win.
Jellico was paced by Bobby Zecchini’s 20 points.