U.P. Girls Swamp Red Springs; Boys Fall
The Lady Vikings opened the season by thumping Red Springs 60-23 in a nonconference basketball game Monday at Union Pines.
After one period of play, the Vikes (1-0) were already in complete control as they led 18-2. By halftime, the Union Pines girls enjoyed a 32-8 lead over the visiting Red Devils (0-1).
Senior captain Tyesha McLean set a torrid pace early for Union Pines tallying six points, three assists and two steals in the opening quarter. The four-year starting guard went on to finish with 15 points, six assists, six rebounds and five steals. Her fellow co-captain, junior Crystal Hicks, had two points, seven steals, six rebounds and four assists in the tilt.
Union Pines extended its margin to 53-10 after three periods were in the books. The Lady Vikings were scheduled to travel to North Moore (0-0) Tuesday evening.
Last season, Union Pines made it to the state quarterfinals of the 3A NCHSAA playoffs, finishing with a record of 22-7, and were the Cape Fear Valley Conference regular season co-champions. While the Vikes return eight players from that squad, the absence of Alisha Mosley was impossible not to notice
After leading the Vikes in scoring over her final three years at Union Pines, Mosley is now freshman starter for the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team.
Mosley was voted the district player of the year by the coaches last season and finished her career at U.P. with 1,365 points and 152 three pointers. She scored 603 points her senior season and sank 81 of her final 125 attempts from three-point land.
Fourth-year head coach John Lewkowicz expects both McLean and Hicks to play a vital role in helping fill the void left by Mosley, who is arguably the best Lady Viking basketball player in school history.
“We are a team,” Lewkowicz said, “and this is a team sport, so we have to get the job done by committee this season. Every game we are going to need two or three players to step up. I am confident that Tyesha and Crystal will help lead us both on and off the court this season.”
McLean has now scored 900 points in her career at Union Pines. Last season she was named to the all-conference and all-district teams.
“After running cross country in the fall, Tyesha is in great shape,” Lewkowicz said. “I just want her to play her game this year, because to me she is the best point guard in the area. She is a great penetrator, relentless on defense and super quick. That quickness will afford her the ability to create her own shot, while also being a playmaker.”
Junior forward Crystal Hicks led the Union Pines in steals, assists and rebounds last season to win the team Extra-Effort Award.
Lewkowicz is excited to see what Hicks can do from the wing as an upperclassman.
“Crystal is a pure wing-player,” said Lewkowicz. “She has a smooth shot and a tremendous basketball IQ.”
Sophomore Tyler Ross led the Vikings in scoring and rebounding, finishing with 17 points and nine boards along with five steals and three assists against Red Springs.
“We want Tyler to focus more on turning and facing the basket from that 12-15 foot range this season,” Lewkowicz said. “She did a good job with that tonight and also gave us a strong defensive effort out on the perimeter.”
Senior Tashi Whitney handled the ball well against Red Springs, backing up McLean at the point. She also dominated on the boards and in transition, tallying seven rebounds, four assists and three steals to go with six points on the night.
“Tashi was a point guard on the jayvee team as a freshman,” Lewkowicz said, “so we had her primarily inside the last two years because we needed quickness in the post, but this year we need her to handle the ball more.
“She is the type of player that is tough to figure out because she is quick, has a nice stroke from long range and can really jump. That versatility makes her a tough match-up (defensively). Plus we are counting on her to be able to run the offense when McLean needs a breather.”
Boys Lose in Boney’s Debut
Union Pines fell 63-48 to Red Springs in the Vike boys’ home hoops opener Monday.
The nonconference game against the Red Devils (1-0) marked the first game for Union Pines (0-1) under new head coach Nick Boney.
Red Springs was in command of the game from the opening tip until the final buzzer.
Red Devil senior point guard Glenn Patterson Jr. scored eight of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter.
After getting dominated on the defensive boards and committing countless costly turnovers, the Vikes were actually fortunate to only trail 33-21 at the half. Red Springs missed four easy layups in transition over the opening 16 minutes of the tilt.
“Right now, my guys are shying away from being aggressive on offense,” said Boney after the game. “They tend to not be able to handle pressure well and become panicky, so I have to figure out a way to get them to calm down here in the early going.”
Through three quarters of play Union Pines trailed 47-37. Back to back three-point field goals by Vikes Sean Brower and Matthew Maness trimmed the margin to 49-43, but it would be as close as the contest would get.
Red Springs eventually closed the game on a 14-6 run to preserve the win.
Along with his game high 26 points, Patterson Jr. had eight assists, six rebounds and four steals for Red Springs. He was joined in double figures by Jeremy McDonald, who had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double, along with sophomore guard Julian Brown, who had 11 points, four assists and five steals for the Red Devils.
Brower connected four times from downtown to lead Union Pines with 14 points, along with five boards and three assists. Ross had a team high eight rebounds for the Vikes, along with seven points, while Sivils finished with nine points.
Maness joined Brower in double figures, finishing with 12 points, three assists and two steals for Union Pines but also committed seven turnovers.
The Vikings face cross-county rival North Moore (1-0) tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Robbins
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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