U.P. Girls Score Big Win
Wednesday night was a momentous one for the Union Pines girls’ basketball program.
The Lady Vikings picked up a 47-31 Cape Fear Valley Conference victory against Western Harnett, while senior point guard Tyesha McLean eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career as a Viking.
After the game, head coach John Lewkowicz made a quick announcement over the public address system at Bob Ward Gymnasium recognizing McLean’s accomplishment.
A captain, McLean finished with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. During her postgame interview, the four-year Union Pines’ starter admitted she had no idea she was so close to reaching the scoring milestone.
“I am really happy tonight about the win and the 1,000 points,” said McLean. “Coach (Lewkowicz) and my team surprised me with that (ceremony) after the game and it is nice that I was able to do it at home in such a big game for our team.
“I am most pleased, though, by the way we played together as a team. We came through on the defensive end tonight, because we communicated and gelled as a unit, which is how we need to play defense in every game.”
For Lewkowicz, Wednesday marked the second straight year he has had the fortune to honor a senior guard for reaching the 1000-point career mark. Alishia Mosley reached the landmark during her senior season in the Vikes’ 14th game last year.
“When you have two guards go back-to-back like this, it just says so much about these players,” he said. “Tyesha works hard. She gives all she can during the game and at practices, and usually stays after practice to shore up some specific part of her game. Alishia (Mosley) was the same way — they are both gym rats.”
Union Pines remains undefeated at 9-0 on the season with the victory and improves to 3-0 in CFVC play. For the visiting Eagles, the loss was their first on the season. They fell to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in league action.
Union Pines came out strong in Wednesday’s game to take an 11-4 lead after one period. Western mounted a charge late in the second quarter, but a three-pointer by junior captain Crystal Hicks at the buzzer pushed the Viking lead to 21-12 at intermission.
Sophomore forward Tyler Ross paced Union Pines with eight points in the first half.
Through three periods of play, Union Pines remained in control taking a 29-21 edge into the final frame. The Vikes then opened the fourth period with an eight-point run to push their margin to 37-21 with 3:54 remaining on the clock. When senior Tashi Whitney scored three points the hard way at the 2:12 mark, Union Pines’ lead had swelled to 44-26.
“We knew coming in, this game would show us we are at that top level,” said Lewkowicz. “Our girls played a great game tonight and it was the best defense I think we have played all year.
“Our goal was to push the ball to the outside (on defense), because we felt we had an advantage if we could make them shoot it from the outside. Tyler, Crystal and Cristina (Morcom) all did a great job sealing things off in the post.”
Hicks turned in a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double along with three steals and three assists, while Ross notched her fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 10 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Vike senior center Cristina Morcom added five boards and two blocks down low.
Whitney had a huge fourth quarter for Union Pines, scoring 10 of her total 12 points in the final frame.
“To get this win tonight was really big,” Whitney said, “because not many people expected us to beat Western Harnett. My goal is just to go hard each night and help my team by doing whatever they need me to do. So to be able to have a good personal showing in such a big game means a lot to me.”
McLean and Whitney combined for 17 points, five boards, four assists and three steals in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Vikings close out the week tonight with a CFVC game against Westover at 6 p.m. While Union Pines and Westover finished last year as the CFVC regular season co-champions, the Wolverines claimed a 58-56 overtime win to top the Vikings in last year’s CFVC tournament championship game.
Lewkowicz admitted neither he nor his team has forgotten that tournament-final loss.
“Now that we have cleared this hurdle, we have another tough test here at home on Friday,” he said. “This is what basketball in the CFVC is all about. We have been waiting for another chance to face Westover and I think we are ready.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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