JOHNSON CITY — University High had a stern message for Unaka’s boys: Not in our house.
The Junior Bucs outscored Unaka 21-5 in the third quarter and eased to a 59-34 conference win Friday at Brooks Gymnasium.
Unaka’s girls fared better than their maroon and white counterparts, taking their first victory in league play this season in a 58-29 decision.
University High created several turnovers and translated the steals into points in the second half when they pulled away in the night cap.
“I felt our defense set the tone in the third quarter,” said University High coach Justin Penley. “We talk about it like every coach talks with their team. The first couple of minutes are going to set the tone. Our kids really got after it after intermission and really played well. I wish I could bottle that somehow and really use it more.
“Our kids were real motivated. Unaka’s a much better team than they showed tonight. They really laid it on us over at the Hardee’s. We took that as motivation and came into this game ready to play well.”
Marcus Taylor scored 21 to lead the Junior Bucs. Seth Hilbert, behind a strong third quarter, tallied 14 with Joseph Phillips putting 12 on the board.
Danny Bales and Billy Bales pace Unaka with 10 each.
University High jumped ahead early behind a pair of outside makes from Marcus Taylor and Joseph Phillips for an 8-2 lead. The Rangers got their offense going after an opening dry spell, tying it up behind baskets from Billy Bales and Logan Carrier.
Taylor and Carrier traded floaters in the final minute to knot the game at 10 all at the end of one.
Spencer Nave gave Unaka its first lead of the game with a jumper at the top of the second quarter. The two teams traded the lead with a series of buckets, but University High got on a roll inside behind eight points from John Crowe and pulled to an eight-point lead at the break.
The Junior Bucs pushed their lead into the double figures with a Seth Hilbert bucket as the second half got underway. Hilbert scored seven points and Taylor scored six to make it a 19-point game and force a Ranger timeout with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
It didn’t get any better as Phillips drained his second trey of the stanza followed by another Hilbert jumper to make it 24 entering the last eight minutes.
The Junior Buc scoring run extended to 31-5 with buckets from Taylor and Everett Loving at the top of the fourth and cruised to the final horn.
“It was fantastic,” said Taylor. “We were knocking down everything and just playing our best. It could have come from any of us. Everybody was performing tonight. We consider Unaka our biggest rival and a win like this means everything.”
While University High played with a chip on their shoulder and was motivated, Unaka coach Aaron Dugger felt his team didn’t carry any emotion over into the game and it showed on the court.
“First of all, if you don’t come out ready to play — there’s no excuse for them not being ready to play University High,” Dugger said. “It’s a rival game. It goes back way back. There’s no excuse and that’s on them.
“There are nights when you don’t shoot it well, but if you don’t play with intensity and passion and a little bit of effort that’s going to happen.”
The Lady Rangers were unmatched from the opening tip.
Led by three double-figure scorers, Unaka cruised to its first conference win of the season using tough defense and solid second half shooting.
“It was a great defensive effort,” said Unaka coach Wes Wright. “We changed it up a lot and kind of kept them off balance. Our girls responded, their maturing enough to where we can change defenses on them without them getting confused.”
Kassie Winters scored 15 points to lead Unaka, who got 14 from Autumn Bradshaw and 10 from Brandi Ensor.
Winters scored five of her points in the opening quarter as the Lady Rangers jumped out to an 11-5 edge. Winters, Bradshaw, Alicia Colbaugh and Kelsey Campbell all scored four each in the second quarter to give the visitors a 14-point halftime lead.
Unaka flat out dominated in the second half.
Bradshaw scored eight in the third and Ensor added four to extend the lead to 22. The lead stretched to as much as 31 behind Winters in the fourth.
“I thought we came out and missed a lot of easy (shots) earlier in the game,” Wright said. “But we were rebounding enough to kind of keep us on top. I thought second half we really just controlled the boards and made shots and finally made our way.
“We needed a conference win. We’ve been playing well, but we’ve got two losses to show for it when we’ve played well. It’s good to get a conference win and maybe get a little momentum going for our girls.”
Eight different Lady Bucs scored, but none scored more than six points on the night.