It was a rough night for the Unaka basketball programs on Stoney Creek.
North Greene 45, Unaka 43 (boys)
Trailing by five points with 1:07 remaining North Greene needed a miracle and Unaka’s inexperience delivered it.
Unaka turned the ball over twice in the last critical 30 seconds and senior forward Zane Britton led a late North Greene charge as the Huskies (6-3, 2-0 WVC) rallied past the Rangers 45-43 on Friday night at Ronnie Snavely gym in a Watauga Valley Conference clash.
“I know people will say that last foul did it, but that isn’t what beat us,” said Rangers head coach Aaron Dugger. “We lose the game in 49 seconds. That was the last time I looked up at the clock during our timeout. Our inexperience showed up at the worst time. The foul at the end did not lose us the ballgame, the block outs at the free throw line with 30 seconds left in a two point game.
“You cannot win doing stuff like that and we gave up two in 30 seconds and they both resulted in points. That’s what got us in trouble.”
Britton went on a tear in the fourth quarter scoring 14 points on a variety of shots and free throws and finished with a game high 19 points.
Unaka (2-8, 0-2 WVC) played well in the first half but trailed 15-14 at the break. Both teams shot poorly in the first half with the Rangers hitting six-for-16 from the floor, while the Huskies were six-for-17.
Unaka seemed to take control in the third period, outscoring NG 15-9 in the quarter to take a 29-24 lead into the final period. Senior J.C. Cocklin had a three pointer and a deuce in the third quarter to help the Rangers take the lead.
Junior forward Dylan Carrier hit a shot in the lane to open the fourth period to give Unaka a 31-24 advantage, but that only seemed to ignite Britton who took the ball end to end for a layup for North Greene.
Carrier hit another bucket, but Britton answered with a three point play to make it a 33-29 contest with 6:15 remaining. Sophomore guard Kyler Lewis hit a deuce in the paint for Unaka that was answered by a Britton two pointer and a 3-ball by Troy Hall to cut the Ranger lead to 35-34.
Carrier launched a three pointer and Lewis completed a three point play as the Rangers now led 41-34 at the 3:36 mark of regulation. A pair of two point buckets from Britton once again whittled the Unaka lead down to 41-38 and Unaka called a timeout with 1:33 left on the clock.
This is where the wheels fell off for the Rangers as they turned it over near the visiting sideline and NG hit one-of-two at the free throw line. On the next possession the Rangers tried a running layup that missed and once again NG got points at the charity stripe, cutting the lead to 41-40.
Britton hit another shot down low after a Ranger turnover to give North Greene the lead at 42-41, but Lewis hit a big bucket in the lane to retake the lead for the Rangers at 43-42.
Hall hit one-of-two from the line, but Britton got the rebound and fed Hall who was fouled. He made his last two shots to give the Huskies the lead with 7.2 seconds left.
“Everybody had a hand in giving it away in the last 30 seconds,” Dugger said. “It is up to them how they respond. They can lay down because things didn’t go their way or they can bow their necks and come back to work.”
North Greene 40, Unaka 34 (girls)
The Unaka Lady Rangers saw a slim halftime lead evaporate in the second half as North Greene earned a 40-34 win on Friday night at Snavely gym in Watauga Valley Conference girls basketball action.
Junior post Sierra Wright led the Rangers (2-6, 1-1 WVC) to a 20-18 lead with eight points and was essential in helping the Lady Rangers break the North Greene press by stationing herself in the paint and allowing the Unaka guards to pass over the top of the press to where she stood unguarded.
“North Greene turned up the pressure a little bit,” commented Lady Rangers head coach Kenneth Chambers. “And we took a lot of outside shots where I thought we should have gone inside a little more. But, the difference was that they turned up the pressure and we started missing some shots. I thought that we played very hard.
“I was happy with how hard we played.”
North Greene (12-1, 2-0 WVC) came back in the thrd period behind five points from Katelyn Weems while Unaka’s shooting turned cold and the Huskies led 29-27 after three quarters.
Ranger post Katlyn Weaver hit a bucket but Lauren Baxter dropped down a trey for NG to give the Huskies a 33-29 lead. Shortly thereafter, Weems hit one-of-two from the line and Taylor Payne got a rebound and putback shot to extend the Huskies advantage to seven at 36-29.
Payne nailed another deuce for NG before senior guard Cheyenne Drew knocked down a three to make it a 38-32 contest.
Free throws by Baxter and a pair of free throws from junior guard Hannah Tipton closed out the scoring.