U.P. Boys Grab Second CFVC Victory
The Union Pines boys’ basketball team improved to 2-0 in the Cape Fear Valley Conference standings with a 72-67 victory over the Gray’s Creek Bears Monday in Hope Mills.
Sophomore shooting guard Matthew Maness paced the visiting Vikes, scoring 10 points in the first half. A three–pointer by Maness in the waning moments of the second quarter gave Union Pines a 33-29 edge over Gray’s Creek (0-6) going into intermission.
After trailing by as much as five points in a competitive and well-played opening half, the four-point lead was Union Pines’ largest through the opening two quarters of play.
In what has started to become a trend, the Vikings found their rhythm on offense in the third quarter. Union Pines scored 23 points in the frame and held leads of 45-40 and 50-43.
Maness again sparked a crucial play at the close of the quarter, finding sophomore Braxton Ross down low. Ross’ eventual bucket at the buzzer halted a run by the Bears and put the Vikes in front 52-47, as play moved to the fourth period.
“Gray’s Creek is a good defensive squad,” said Union Pines head coach Nick Boney. “They have played a tough schedule and really are a better team than their current record indicates. Playing on the Bears’ home floor, it was important for our guys to match their intensity and (they) were able to do so.”
In the final frame, Union Pines only converted two baskets from the field but made 14 of 22 foul shots to hang on and pull out a huge league victory on the road. Junior point guard Lashun Brower scored nine points in the fourth quarter and connected on five of his seven attempts at the charity stripe down the stretch to help secure the game for the Vikings.
“In the end, my players came through in terms of keeping their focus and playing hard,” Boney said. “I have to commend their effort and the way they were able to again overcome adversity and win in a hostile environment. This (Gray’s Creek) is a tough place to play. They have supportive fans, and tonight those fans were hungry for a win. So, all in all, I feel like my team handled that pressure well.
“In a way, I think that we pulled from our experiences in some of the tougher early season games we played, like the one at North Moore. Tonight the guys were able to protect the ball better in the end, not as well as I wanted them too, but they handled the pressure and maintained their composure a little better than they did against North Moore.”
In its second game of the season, Union Pines dropped a heartbreaking 45-44 loss in Robbins to North Moore, after leading 35-28 through three periods of play. The cross-county classic was not decided until the final buzzer when the stands, which were packed with Mustang fans, rushed the court in celebration.
Union Pines had five players finish in double figures in Monday’s game. Maness led the way scoring 17 points, along with five assists and three steals. Ross scored 14 on top of three blocks and eight rebounds, while Brower had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Vike sophomore Kendrick McCrae had 11 points and seven boards, while junior Parris Manning finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists for Union Pines.
E. J. Hamilton finished with a game-high 20 points for the Bears. Barnabas Melvin joined Hamilton in double figures, scoring 14 points for Gray’s Creek.
The Vikings improved to 3-5 on the year with the win and host Western Harnett (0-7, 0-1) tonight at 7:30 p.m. in a CFVC clash.
Girls Remain Undefeated
The Union Pines girls cruised to a 53-21 league win against Gray’s Creek (0-7, 0-2) Monday.
The visiting Vikings seized control of the contest early. Union Pines led 15-4 after one period and 31-11 at the halftime break. U.P. outscored the Bears 15-6 in the third quarter to carry a 46-17 advantage into the final frame.
Captains Tyesha McLean and Crystal Hicks both had big nights for Union Pines as the Lady Vikings improved to 8-0 on the year and 2-0 in league play.
McLean scored a game-high 18 points, while Hicks finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Tyler Ross tallied 11 points for the Vikes along with seven rebounds and four steals.
Tonight at 6 p.m. Union Pines hosts conference rival Western Harnett at Bob Ward Gymnasium in a battle of unbeatens. The Lady Eagles are 7-0 overall and 1-0 in the CFVC on the season.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
More like this story