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Cloudland, Unaka triumph in Region 1-A semifinals

Tanner Cook • Updated Feb 26, 2018 at 9:57 PM

NEWPORT—From not having a permanent place to practice in the preseason — due to flooding at Sonny Smith Gymnasium — to playing for the regional championship and securing a substate berth.

That was the underlying story after Monday night’s first Region 1-A girls basketball semifinal at Cocke County High School, where Cloudland defeated North Greene 34-29.

Unaka edged Cosby 37-35 in the nightcap, meaning it will be a Carter County matchup in Wednesday night’s championship game.

Down two points with under 40 seconds to go, North Greene, which had struggled throughout, could not get anything to go down.

Megan Lunsford led Cloudland with eight points and Breanne Savage topped the Lady Huskies with a game-high nine points.

“It was beautiful,” Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford said with glossy eyes. “I’m so proud of those girls. We’ve had a lot of adversity and a lot of stuff going on. They listened and they worked hard to get to this point. They carried out the plan about as well as they could have.”

LADY ’LANDERS TAKE CHARGE

Cloudland took a firm grip on the game with a 6-0 spurt, which consisted of three layups (two by Stacia Wilson, one by Trinity Vines), near the end of the third quarter.

Both teams were playing great on defense, but offenses were sputtering at best. The Lady Highlanders took a 28-16 advantage into the fourth period.

HUSKIES ON THE PROWL

The Lady Huskies turned up the pressure in the second quarter, causing a multitude of Cloudland turnovers, but they could not convert on the other end. The missed layups started to accumulate.

Even though they were playing solid defense and had held Cloudland to four points in the second quarter, the deficit was almost the same at the half (16-10) as it was at the end of the first quarter (12-5).

GOOD START FOR LADY ’LANDERS

Cloudland got off to a good start in the first quarter, nailing a couple of outside shots that nabbed a comfortable seven-point lead at the end of the opening stanza.

Kenzie Birchfield and Wilson were among the early offensive threats.

Unaka 37, Cosby 35

A late surge by Unaka after being down by nine points late in the third quarter sent the Lady Rangers past Cosby and into the Region 1-A title game.

Erika Potter and Myah Parlier were the fuel for Unaka’s comeback.

“Cosby came out hard in the third quarter, but we just never quit,” Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers said. “It could’ve gone either way and both teams deserved to win. It’s funny because Coach Lunsford actually talked on the phone today and wished that we could be playing each other in the finals. I guess our wish came true.”

Cloudland will play Unaka on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cocke County High School. Both teams also clinched a substate berth with the wins.

LADY EAGLES SOAR THEN FALTER

Cosby came out of the locker room on fire and scored five straight points to build on its one-point halftime advantage (16-15). Unaka had to hang tough as its outside game was not firing for the Lady Rangers and the turnovers were mounting against an aggressive Cosby defense.

The Lady Eagles looked as if they had shut the door when Leia Groat stole the ball and passed it ahead for a breakaway layup by Laney Hurley, putting the Lady Eagles up by nine points late in the third.

Parlier and Potter had four straight putbacks off misses in the start of the fourth quarter to start the comeback. Making free throws down the stretch was the key to icing the game in a tight final stanza.

PACE QUICKENS

After painfully slow starts, the pace for both teams picked up midway through the second quarter.

Sarah and Savannah Tipton made the fire burn for Unaka and Megan Miller picked it up for the Lady Eagles.

SLOW STARTS

It seemed as if every team that was playing in the semifinals had a tough time scoring points. The first game was low scoring and the second game was not off to a good start either as Cosby led Unaka 4-2 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Rangers scored the first points of the game and did not score again until midway through the second quarter.

LEADERS

Parlier had a game-high 17 points to lead Unaka with seven in the fourth quarter alone. Miller led Cosby with 13.

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