Yerkes saves Rangers; Highlanders ousted

12:02 am | February 16, 2014

GRAY — With his team’s season at stake, after a four quarter battle plagued by foul trouble, Unaka senior Jeffrey Yerkes’ two free throw attempts at the end of regulation were undoubtedly the biggest shots of his prep career.

“I’ve never been in that situation before,” said Yerkes. “I was scared to death to pretty much let my teammates down. They told me, miss or make, they would be by my side no matter what — that kind of took the pressure off.”

In the face of two University High timeouts, with all of the pressure in the world riding on his shoulders, Yerkes extended the Ranger season into overtime.

Alex Baltaji and company took over from there with a 12-3 four-minute close, guiding Unaka’s boys to a hard-fought 90-81 victory over University High in the District 1-A quarterfinals at Daniel Boone High School.

North Greene 64

Cloudland 54

With a limited depth chart and in foul trouble much of the game, the Highlanders found themselves behind the eight ball. A 36-8 free throw differential didn’t help matters.

Although the Highlanders were in fighting distance and even willed its way ahead late in the game, it was ultimately too much for Cloudland to overcome in a season-ending loss to the Huskies.

“The foul differential was a difference in the game,” said Cloudland coach Gary Harrison. “We probably did have some stupid fouls, but, for whatever reason, they just saw it on one side. When one team shoots 36 free throws and the other team shoots eight, it puts you in a hard spot.

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