Buzzer Beater Send Vikings to Title Game
With time running out, Tony McLean connected with Jon Toomer for a buzzer-beating lay in sealing Union Pines 70-68 victory over the Harnett Central Trojans in the conference semifinals Wednesday at Southern Lee. The Vikings now advance to Friday's Conference Tournament Championship.
The ending was a fitting finale to a game that featured a frenetic final-frame pace and a frenzied finish.
After a dominating second quarter display by the Vikes, which featured 12 points from captain Derrick Ross, including three treys, Union Pines led at the half 35-24. The Vikings extend that lead to fourteen points with less than two minutes remaining in the third, only to see Central storm back to close the quarter on an 11-2 run, on the back of senior Brad Buske. Buske scored eight points and had a nice assist during the stretch, as Union Pines led 49-46 going into the fourth period.
Central momentum continued and the Trojans built a seven-point lead at 63-56 with 2:34 left in the contest. The Trojans employed a half-court trap that forced seven turnovers from the Vikings.
Union Pines responded. The Vike run began when junior guard Will Maness hit J. Toomer down low for two. Toomer was fouled and sank the free throw to close the gap to four points. Seconds later Maness stole a pass near mid court and converted a lay up to cut the lead to two. Ross was fouled with 2:15 on the clock and made both ends of a one-and-one to tie things up at 63.
Buske struck again as he swished home an eighteen-footer put the Trojans back in front at the 1:50 mark. J. Toomer then converted on a crucial offensive put back to again tie the game with less than a minute to go. On the next possession, Central turned the ball over on an errant pass. With time ticking away, J. Toomer passed the ball to sophomore Eric Smith who drained a three to give Union Pines a 68-65 lead. The Trojans pushed the ball up court and Buske received it in the left corner. He then dribbled to the arc where he was fouled on a three-point attempt with thirteen seconds left in the contest.
Buske went on to tie the game by sinking his three free throws, which set the stage for Union Pines' eventual game-winning basket.
Buske was hot in the second half scoring 26 of his game high 37 points. He had fourteen points in the final frame and finished the game with six treys..
Ross led the Vikes with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Smith scored eight big points in the third quarter and finished with 17. J. Toomer, who had four points at the half via two monster slam-dunks, ended the night with 16 as he scored twelve in the final quarter, including the the game-winner.
The Vikes, now 18-8, face the Southern Lee Cavaliers in Sanford, Friday, in the championship game. Southern Lee won the regular season championship with a 13-1 conference record and is therefore, the host team. The Cavs are 23-4 on the year and ranked seventh in the state 3-A NCPreps.com poll. The defending regular conference champions and tournament champions, the Cavs won the Mideast sectionals last year. In this season's first two games between the Vikings and the Cavs, Southern Lee won 86-67 at home and 81-72 at Union Pines.
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