Viking Boys, Boney Pick Up First Win
Union Pines defeated West Montgomery 71-66 at Bob Ward Gymnasium Wednesday, marking head basketball coach Nick Boney’s first career victory.
“I feel good about the win,” he said after the game. “Like I have said before, I wanted to see how my guys would handle adversity, and I feel like they responded well tonight.”
By outlasting the visiting Warriors (1-1) in a physical and fast-paced final six minutes of action, the Vikes improved their record to 1-3 on the young season.
Early on in the game, point guard Lashun Brower provided Union Pines with some much needed offense. The junior starter led the Vikings with 11 points in the first half, as Union Pines held a 22-19 edge at intermission.
As the fourth quarter began, Union Pines clung to a 39-36 lead. But a three-pointer by sophomore Matthew Maness extended the Vike margin to eight points at 44-36. Brower later converted a lay in on a pass from senior Garrison Peele to again push the margin to eight at 46-38 with 6:32 remaining in the game.
At the 5:30 mark of the fourth frame, junior Jordan Sivils scored on a putback to make the score 52-44, giving the Vikes their third eight-point cushion of the tilt. From there, West Montgomery utilized a full court press causing Union Pines to commit three consecutive turnovers. As a result the visiting Warriors scored seven unanswered points, cutting the Vikings’ lead to 52-51.
The following two-and-a-half minutes featured a frenzied pace as both teams exchanged clutch baskets. With just under three minutes to go, West Montgomery connected on a deep three ball to pull within two points at 58-56.
That was as close as the Warriors would get. A putback bucket by Charles Steadwell and two free throws from sophomore Braxton Ross gave Union Pines a 62-56 lead with 2:25 remaining on the clock.
Ross, who did not score in the first half, delivered a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double performance. He also had five blocks and three steals, while scoring 12 points and grabbing six boards in a monster fourth period effort.
Boney admitted that right now, Ross is his “workhorse.”
“I would like to get one of my other post players to give Braxton some help,” said Boney. “Being (he’s) a sophomore, I don’t want too much pressure placed on him, but at the same time I am really, really happy about Braxton’s play right now.
Along with their defensive rebounding efficiency in the fourth quarter, another aspect that helped swing the final outcome in the Vikes’ favor was a half court 1-3-1 defensive set Boney employed in the contest’s final four minutes.
“We have worked on that (1-3-1) in practice,” Boney said, “and the guys did a good job executing out of the set tonight and were able to create some turnovers that led to transition points for us.
“Having a guy pressuring the ball out front is one positive about the 1-3-1. Tonight it seemed to break West Montgomery’s flow on offense by causing them to panic some late, and ultimately I think it helped us win the basketball game.”
Brower finished with 18 points for Union Pines and had four steals. Parris Manning scored seven of his eight points in the fourth quarter, and tallied seven rebounds, five steals and four assists on the night.
Peele did a bit of everything for the Vikes. The team’s lone senior pulled down six boards, scored six points and had seven assists. Maness chipped in with seven points and five assists for the Vikings.
After the game Boney said that his team is still a work in progress.
“Right now we are just putting the puzzle together piece by piece,” he said. “I was optimistic coming into this game, and now that it is over I am even more confident in this team’s potential. I feel good about the effort the guys have given me. They have come out and played hard regardless of the circumstances, so I am pleased with the pieces that we have put in place so far.
“I am also beginning to feel much better about my rotation. My thinking in terms of our rotation is much clearer, especially in regard to the combinations that seem to work best in certain spots. The guys are also starting to get a feel for their roles in that rotation, which should bode well for us as we approach the upcoming conference season.”
Union Pines is back in action next Monday against nonconference opponent Southwestern Randolph at 7:30 p.m. in Asheboro.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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