Co-Champions to Meet for Title
Friday’s Cape Fear Valley 3A Conference girls’ tournament championship is set, as the Union Pines Lady Vikings (19-5) and Westover Wolverines (17-5) will square off at Westover, with the tip scheduled for 6 p.m.
The two schools were this year’s regular season co-conference champions, as the winner of the tourney title will also receive the top seed from the conference for the state tournament.
Top-seeded Union Pines ran its current win streak to 11 games in the nightcap with a hard-fought 48-44 victory over fourth-seed Western Harnett (19-7).
The Lady Vikes and Western were neck-and-neck throughout the second of two semifinal contests played at Union Pines Thursday. After holding a 13-10 advantage through one period, Union Pines held a 22-20 lead at intermission.
Vike sophomore forward Crystal Hicks had 10 rebounds, six points and three assists at the half. Senior guard Alishia Mosley had seven points and three boards through two periods, while her backcourt mate, junior guard Tyesha McLean, also had seven points along with three steals.
Lady Eagle junior Ariel Bursey finished the first half with 12 points and six rebounds for Western. Then she scored 10 third-quarter points, while McLean (six) and Hicks (four) combined for 10 Union Pines’ points as the teams entered the final quarter knotted up at 35-all.
Western took a brief 42-41 lead in the fourth frame when Bursey scored down low at the 4:47 mark. However, a McLean steal led to an assist from Hicks, who hit Mosley out beyond the left arc for a 24-foot bomb to give the Vikes the lead back at 44-42. Mosley then grabbed a defense board on the Eagles' next possession and found McLean for a transition score to push the margin to 46-42 with 2:34 left in the game.
Having only committed two team fouls through the first five-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter, Western was forced to commit several fouls to put the Vikes in the bonus, burning precious time in the process. After a turnover, Union Pines freshman Tyler Ross grabbed a huge board on a miss by Bursey with 1:04 remaining. The Vikes then milked the clock before missing an open shot.
From there, Bursey grabbed the defense rebound and broke down court, sinking a drive with 34 seconds left to make it a two-point game. McLean was then sent to the free throw line, where she missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Bursey had a chance to tie the game but was off, and Hicks collected the defensive board.
Again, McLean was sent to the line for a one-and-one attempt. Although she is a 81 percent free throw shooter on the year, her first shot rimmed out, and Bursey streaked down court and got off a runner from six feet out. The shot rode the rim but bounced out as Ross kept it alive, and Mosley secured the loose ball for a defensive board.
Mosley then stepped to the line with 6.5 ticks left on the clock and sank both ends of the one-and-one situation to stamp Union Pines’ ticket to the title game.
Hicks finished with an 18-rebound, 10-point double-double while adding five steals and five assists. Mosley made three shots from downtown in the last 10 minutes of the game to finish with 17 points along with seven rebounds and four assists, while McLean had 15 points, five steals and four rebounds. Although Ross did not score, she collected 13 rebounds and had three blocks.
Bursey finished with a game-high 28 points while tallying 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
The night’s opening semifinal game saw second-seeded Westover win by a score of 54-41 over third-seeded Overhills (20-5), which was without the service of starting point guard Rarnice Johnson.
Johnson was not at the game due to an injury related to a spider bite, and her status, though not critical, is uncertain for the state playoffs. Johnson averaged 11.3 points, six assists, 3.5 rebounds and three steals per outing in the regular season.
The Wolverines carried a 23-16 lead into halftime and extended the margin to 44-29 as play moved to the final quarter. Westover reserve guard Jasmyn Trawick had seven points and five steals in the second half and finshed the night with 11 points, seven steals and four boards. Senior guard Chante’ Bell had an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double and collected four steals, while junior center Shanice Pringle had 17 rebounds and six points.
Overhills was led by senior guard Felicia Bennet, who finished with an 18-point, 15-rebound double-double. She also had four steals, three blocks and three assists. Jasmine Canady joined Bennet in double figures, scoring 12 points, along with four assists and three steals.
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