Vike Girls Upset Defending Champ
By F.W. Manning II
Special to The Pilot
Union Pines' girls' basketball team scored an upset Monday, going on the road to defeat two-time defending league champion Western Harnett 62-50 in a Cape Fear Valley Conference game.
With the victory, the Vikes gained some ground in the league standings, improving to 3-2 in conference play and 11-5 overall. Western, which entered the game as the No. 4-ranked 3A team in the state, fell to 12-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play and dropped out of a first-place tie with Overhills in the conference standings.
"This was a huge game for us," said Viking head coach John Lewkowicz. "We were able to maintain poise, control the tempo of the game and take care of the basketball, which is something we did not do in our two (conference) losses to Overhills and the game we dropped at Westover."
In those losses, the Vikes held leads late in the third quarter and into the fourth period only to see the opposition capitalize on turnovers to make runs and capture comeback wins.
"The lessons that were learned during that growing phase of the season really paid off for us tonight," said Lewkowicz. "Our last two games on the road have been pretty solid, which indicates some growth in maturity as a team. The biggest thing about our play of late is everybody is contributing. Even the girls coming in (off the bench) are doing those crucial little things, and that is what we are all about. Each player has to accept their role for us to thrive."
In a showdown between two of the top players in the league, Viking senior Alishia Mosley and Western's junior point guard Ariel Bursey put on a show.
Mosley, who was an all-state selection last season and runner-up in the league MVP voting, scored 13 of her team-high 25 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Bursey, an all-region selection and last season's conference MVP, scored 14 first-half points and finished with a game-high 26.
Behind a nine-point first quarter from Mosley, Union Pines built an early 21-9 lead before Western battled back to close the frame on a six-point run to trail 21-15 going into the second quarter. At halftime Union Pines held a 34-29 advantage.
As play began in the third quarter, Union Pines opened a 41-32 edge on a pair of free throws from junior captain Tyesha McClean. When Mosley made 2-of-3 at the free throw line, the Lady Vikes led 47-36 at the 2:17 mark of the period and took a 50-39 lead into the fourth quarter. Bursey had all 10 of the Lady Eagles' points in the third quarter to keep her team in the game.
When the fourth quarter started, Bursey was sitting on 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Mosley had 25 points, three rebounds, three assists a steal and a block. Mosley did not score in the final frame but did have four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
"After Alishia shot the lights out through three quarters," Lewkowicz said, "she came through in other important ways in that final quarter with ball handling, running the team and distributing the ball. She truly was a solid floor general for us."
Along with her 25 points, Mosley finished with six rebounds and five assists. Vike freshman Tyler Ross had 16 rebounds while scoring eight points and snatching four steals, while McLean finished with 17 points, seven assists and six steals. Sophomore Crystal Hicks had six points for Union Pines along with eight boards, four assists and three steals.
Bursey had four points in the fourth, along with three rebounds, two assists and two steals to finish the night with eight rebounds, six assists and four steals to go along with her game high 26 points.
"Everybody has been talking all season about Western Harnett, Overhills and Westover, having each been ranked in the top 10 at one time, so we have to dig our way through that," Lewkowicz said. "We truly believe we can compete with all of those teams, and tonight was a big step in that direction in terms of confidence and chemistry."
After Monday night, Overhills was alone in first place with a conference record of 4-0, while Western fell into tie for second place with Westover. Overhills hosted Western on Tuesday night, while Westover hosted Gray's Creek, which came into the conference tilt with a league mark of 1-3.
The Vikes next take the floor Friday, when they travel to Fayetteville to tangle with Douglas Byrd, which had a 3-11 overall record and was 0-4 in the conference heading into its Tuesday league tilt with Southern Lee. Friday's league game between Union Pines and Douglas Byrd is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
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