UP Tops Gray's Creek, Meets Overhills in Semifinal
To advance to the finals of the conference tournament, the Union Pines girl's basketball team faces a tough task in tonight's semifinal -- beat Overhills for the third time.
The Vikings earned tonight's rematch with the Jaguars, thanks to a 57-41 home win over the Gray's Creek Bears Monday night.
The Vikes entered Monday on a two-game losing skid after dropping games to Southern Lee and Western Harnett. They played flat against a team they had beaten twice before by an average of 19 points per game.
"In the Southern Lee game and tonight we thought we already had the game before it even began," said Viking junior Alishia Mosley. "We ended up coming out and playing like we were down after they took an early lead, when we should have been playing like we were up the whole time. So we have to pick up the intensity and be consistent for 32 minutes in order to get back to playing our best."
The Vikes trailed 11-5 after a quarter, but bounced back nicely in the second behind a combined 12 points from senior captain Lindsey Wilborn and Mosley and took a 21-20 lead at the half.
Trailing 25-23 with 5:56 left in the third quarter, Union Pines picked up its intensity and closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 32-27 lead into the final eight minutes.
Freshman Crystal Hicks said defense was the deciding factor. On the night she finished with 5 steals and 9 rebounds for the Vikings.
"We were not that focused as the game started," said Hicks, who finished with five steals and nine rebounds. "But at halftime we buckled down mentally and prepared ourselves for what we needed to do. Then we just came out hard (in the second half) and got each other pumped up on defense, which allowed us to get some big points off of turnovers."
The Vikes continued to hit the boards hard and play stifling defense from the onset of the fourth period. Wilborn made back-to-back steals, scoring off one and making an assist to senior forward Catherine Daly on the other to give Union Pines a 38-29 edge with 3:42 left to play. From there the teams would trade baskets. The Bears were then forced to begin fouling, down 42-33 with 1:22 left to play, and the Vikings closed the game out from the line.
In the final quarter Wilborn had three steals and three assists, while McLean made three steals. Mosley and Hicks each had four rebounds in the last period, as the Vikes' combined effort helped lift Union Pines to a six-point win as it survived to advance to tonight's semifinal round against the third seed Overhills Lady Jaguars.
Coming off a double-double in Tuesday's Senior Night game, Wilborn finished the night with 11 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
"In the first half we were too focused on the offensive end," Wilborn said, "instead of every aspect of solid team basketball. For us it is our defense that makes our offense go, and once we got that combination working, we pulled together and were able to take over the game."
Wilborn had injury troubles throughout her sophomore and junior seasons as a Viking. While she did suffer through two nagging injuries midway through the year (ankle and wrist), as the postseason is now underway Wilborn is injury free and in the best physical shape of her career. With "full spring" back in her hops, she is averaging close to 13 rebounds in her last four games while consistently scoring in double figures.
"It feels so good to have fresh legs," Wilborn said, "and not to be injured. I have not felt this good physically in a long time."
Mosley led the Vikes in scoring with 15 points and had eight rebounds. McLean joined Mosley and Wilborn in double figures, scoring 11 points to go along with four steals, four rebounds and four assists.
The Vikes (18-7) and Jaguars (19-5) play at 6 p.m. and are the first game of a doubleheader tonight in Lillington. Host school and top-seed Western Harnett (24-0) will play Triton (13-10) at 7:30 p.m.
"We are going to have to give it or all," Mosley said, "because they (Lady Jaguars) are a good team. They have the same conference record as us and we just have to come out ready, play hard and not give up. The fact that we beat them two times this year means nothing at this point in the season."
Contact F.W. Manning II at 639-5481 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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