Cloudland made a valiant comeback in the fourth quarter. However, Unaka had enough in the tank to hold on for the win.
The Rangers held on for a 63-60 victory over the ‘Landers in the quarterfinals of the District 1-A tournament to advance to Saturday’s semifinals and the Region 1-A tournament.
Unaka will take on No. 1 University High at 5:30 p.m., in Saturday’s semifinal action.
On Friday night, the opening quarter was a back-and-forth battle.
Josh Blair scored five points in the first quarter for Cloudland, who held an early lead, before Unaka countered with five points from Austin Drew. The Rangers held a 16-13 advantage after the first eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter, Unaka got a boast from John Ramsey as he scored seven points in the frame while Will Sexton added five more in the quarter. That allowed Unaka to pull away to a double-digit lead and maintained a 36-21 advantage at the half.
It was nearly status-quo in the third quarter as Unaka used shots from four Rangers to maintain a 13-point lead after three complete quarters.
Cloudland wasn’t going to go down without a fourth-quarter fight.
The trio of Hunter Shell, Robert Leeper and Blair hit shots – while the ‘Lander defense held Unaka to just two points from the floor – to trim the lead to one point in the final minute. Unaka, however, secured the win as Isaac Hill sank three free throws.
Ramsey led Unaka with 14 points, while Hill added 12 points. Ryan Johnson scored 10 points in the win. Drew added nine points to the Unaka cause.
Cloudland was paced by Leeper’s 17 points, while Shell and Blair each had 14 points. Conner Birchfield scored 12 points in the game.