The Lady Rangers held on for a 53-45 victory over Tellico Plains in Saturday night’s Class A girls substate game on Stoney Creek. With the win, Unaka punched a ticket to the state tournament — which will begin on Wednesday in Murfreesboro.
“I am so proud of the girls, they hung in there,” Unaka coach Kenneth Chambers said. “We had a fouling problem in the first; they are quick and have some great ball players. I am proud of them. They worked hard this year.”
Having also made the trip in 2004, Unaka is state bound for just the second time in school history.
The Lady Rangers gave the visitors quite a shellshock in the opening quarter. After Myah Parlier’s game-opening score and a Lady Bears basket, Lexi Garland hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-0 Unaka run that included shots from Savannah Tipton and Sarah Tipton.
UHS held a 17-8 lead at the end of the first
TELLICO PLAINS STRIKES BACK
The Lady Bears, however, didn't go down without a fight. After the Lady Rangers led by as many as 12 in the second quarter, Tellico Plains ended the half on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 30.
LADY RANGERS REGROUP
Unaka jumped out early in the third quarter, and never trailed the rest of the way.
“We didn't give up,” Chambers said. “We had been situations like that all year. We played some really good teams and a tough schedule. I think because of that, we don't give up and keep fighting regardless of the score.”
Unaka was able to get some breathing room by opening a five-point lead to open the fourth quarter and then sealed the victory on the free-throw line.
TOUGH GARLAND LEADS THE WAY
Garland tallied 14 points despite missing part of the first half with an injury. The senior was able to come back and provide a spark for the Lady Rangers.
“Lexi is a tough little ball player,” Chambers said. “She has been playing really well. If anyone gets hurt, it is a bad situation for anyone — but she toughened up. She got taped and came back in and hit a couple of threes. She is a great senior leader.”
Parlier finished with 12 points, while the Tipton sisters had nine points apiece.
TELLICO PLAINS LEADERS
Samantha Russell had 20 points to pace the Lady Bears, who were 27-3 entering Saturday night. Callie Kirkpatrick had nine points.