Vikings Fall to Southern Lee
The Union Pines boys' basketball team lost 93-75 to the Southern Lee Cavaliers in the Cape Fear Valley's tournament championship game Friday night in Sanford.
The Vikings came into the game riding a seven-game winning streak, while Southern Lee entered the match-up as the fifth-ranked team in the state in the NCPreps.com 3-A poll and fresh off two 100-plus point performances in their last three outings.
The Cavs got off to a fast start and led 10-2 when Raymond Brown made a pull-up jumper with 4:03 left in the first quarter. Down 12-4, the Vikes mounted a nine-point run capped off by a bucket by Jon Toomer that gave Union Pines a 13-12 lead at the 1:53 mark. J. Toomer scored off an assist from Eric Smith, making the score 15-14 in favor of the Vikings with 1:44 to play in the opening frame. The Cavs then closed the quarter on a 7-2 run to lead 21-17 after the first.
Brown had eight first-quarter points for the Cavs along with three steals and two assists. The Vikes' Darrell Toomer had two blocks and six points in the period.
The second stanza would prove to be the deciding factor in Southern Lee's victory. The Cavs relentless full-court pressure defense began to take its toll on the Vikes, as reserve Donte Alston did damage from the perimeter and Brown played extremely tough defense while distributing the ball well.
Donte Alston opened the quarter with a long three to stretch Southern Lee's lead to seven. Brown made a steal and coasted in for an easy two, making the score 26-18 in favor of the Cavs with 6:20 left in the half. Southern Lee's two-time all-state junior, Akeem Richmond, then scored four straight points to push the lead to 30-18. Two free throws by Richmond gave the Cavs a 20-point cushion at the 2:08 mark. With 1:03 on the clock, Donte Alston sank his third trey of the quarter to put the Cavs up 46-25.
The Vikes then rattled off six straight to get within 14 points with 18 seconds left, but Southern Lee scored on an offensive putback at the buzzer by Darrell Alston and led 48-32 at the half.
Donte Alston had a huge second quarter for the Cavs, scoring 13 points.
"We played good after the first quarter," he said. "We slacked on defense early on but we stepped it up after that. Union Pines is a good team, they have some guys that can really jump and some of our starters got in foul trouble, so Raymond (Brown) and I had to come out and produce."
Vike senior captain Travis Monroe did a great job on Richmond in the first half, limiting him to just two field goals and no threes, although he scored six from the line for 10 first-half points. Richmond scored 63 points and had 13 three-pointers in the first two rounds of the tournament.
"It feels good to win back-to-back regular season and conference titles," said Richmond, "but I don't think we have played our best yet -- we played well but we did not try as hard as we could this week."
The Vikes entered the second half with Smith, their best all-around defender, in foul trouble with three personals. Ross struck first in the third quarter with a drive to cut the Cav lead to 14. A putback by Smith again cut the lead to 14 with 7:02 left in the quarter. Smith picked up his fourth foul when he attempted to block a breakaway drive by Richmond.
After the teams traded baskets for over three minutes, with Southern Lee eventually taking a 71-53 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Vikes had two chances to crawl within 13 points of the Cavs in the fourth period, but turned the ball over each time down the floor. Southern Lee, 25-3 on the year, would eventually take complete control going up 91-65 on its way to the championship.
J. Toomer and D. Toomer each scored 18 to lead the Vikes, while Monroe and Ross both had 12. Southern Lee's Richmond scored 14 second-half points and ended with a game-high 23. Brown had 16 for the Cavs while Donte Alston and Aaron Mellette each had 15.
Akeem Richmond was the tournament MVP. For Union Pines, Ross and J. Toomer were selected to the all-tournament team. Richmond scored 86 points in the tournament, including 15 three-pointers.
After the contest, Viking head coach Bobby Purvis chose to focus on the way his team performed over the entire tournament.
"I think our basketball team got better this week," Purvis said. "We took a good step over the span of this tournament -- the kind (of step) that we have to take to get ready for the state playoffs next week. Next week is what it is all about and what is most important. I think our level of play has continued to get better each time we have taken the court in the past few weeks and anticipate that trend to continue as we gear up for a playoff run."
Union Pines, now 18-9, faces Morehead High (11-14), the fourth seed from the Triad conference, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Union Pines in the first round of the state 3-A playoffs.
Union Pines 17 15 21 22 -- 75
Southern Lee 21 27 23 22 -- 93
Union Pines -- W. Maness 0 1-2 1; T. Monroe 5 2-4 12; D. Ross 4 4-7 12; T. McLean 1 1-2 6; E. Smith 3 0-0 6; J. Toomer 7 4-5 18; D. Toomer 9 0-0 18; C. Henderson 0 2-4 2. Totals -- 29 14-24 75.
Southern Lee -- A. Richmond 5 7-9 23; C. Taylor 3 1-2 7; J. Martin 1 0-1 5; Darrell Alston 3 0-2 6; R. Brown 8 0-1 16; M Mellette 3 0-0 6; M. Mellette 7 1-4 15; Donte Alston 1 4-5 15. Totals -- 31 13-24 93.
Three-point goals: Union Pines 1 (McLean); Southern Lee 6 (Richmond 2, Martin 1, Donte Alston 3).
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