Mustang Girls Wear Down Vikings
The North Moore Mustang girls’ basketball team rallied from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to top Union Pines Wednesday by a score of 41-33 at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron.
“This is the first time we (North Moore) have won against Union Pines in a while, so it feels good,” said Mustang senior captain Shakorya Brower right after the big Mustang victory.
An all-state selection last season, Brower scored 11 points in the fourth period of the game that saw the Mustangs shutout the homestanding Vikings 14-0.
“We have been waiting on this for a few years,” she added, “and this win means so much to us as a team. It lets us know that we can win against any team we play. All we have to do is go out there hard each time we take the court, like we did tonight.
“Before this game, as a team we wanted to come here play hard and leave it all on the court. To be able to know we accomplished that, while picking up the win in the process is a special feeling.”
Brower finished the night with a dominating double-double, registering game-high totals with 22 points and 20 rebounds. The senior captain also had four assists, four steals and three blocks in the Mustangs’ first victory over the Lady Vikes in five-plus seasons.
With the win in the nonconference cross-county clash between unbeatens, North Moore improved to 4-0 on the season while Union Pines dropped to 3-1 with the loss. Mustang head coach Sammy McNeill was singing the praises of Brower’s performance during his post-game comments.
“Shakorya Brower just put on a display in that fourth quarter,” said McNeill. “I keep telling people she is the best female basketball player in Moore County hands down — she is a player.”
After trailing 33-24 late in the third period, a three-point bucket by junior point guard Jessie Sheffield brought the Mustangs within six points and started what was a 17-point, game-closing run for North Moore.
“We held Union Pines dead in the fourth quarter,” said McNeill, “and just like we do preparing for any other opponent we came in with a game plan tonight. We feel we are much faster than they are, so our theory was to take their top scorers out of the game from the start. Holly Green was the main player we put on Tyler Ross tonight (in our box-in-one) and when you hold her (Ross) to four points, you’ve got a good chance to beat Union Pines.”
In her previous two outings, Ross scored 28 and 13 points, respectively, in Viking road victories against East Montgomery (52-26) and Richmond Senior (42-28), but scored just four points in Wednesday’s contest.
“Also Union Pines was playing very slow and getting back, packing into a zone on defense,” McNeill said. “So we felt like we could wear them down. As a result we continued to try and push and push. After all those shots Union Pines was hitting in the first three quarters, it appeared to me as though their (Vikings) legs were gone in the final quarter, as a lot of the shots they took were not even making it to the basket. “That made me feel good when I saw their three-point shots starting to fall short, because I knew for sure they were tired and that is usually when we can turn it on and we did.”
The Vikings made five treys in the first half to carry a 33-28 lead into intermission but did not sink a single shot from downtown in the last two quarters. Meanwhile four-year Union Pines starter and senior captain Crystal Hicks had three personal fouls by halftime and did not see any second-quarter action.
Throughout the game, Union Pines built several five- and seven-point leads, but each time North Moore answered with a big bucket to stay in the ball game, especially in the third quarter.
Trailing 27-20, Mustang junior guard Jalisa Davis scored on a drive to cut the lead to five with 3:52 to play in the third frame. On their next possession, the Mustangs got within five again when Brower scored down low to make the score 29-24 with 3:13 left in the period. From there, Union Pines got two consecutive buckets in the paint from sophomore Tiffany Hicks to push its lead to 33-24 with 12 seconds left in the quarter, but Brower took the inbound pass and found Sheffield, who buried a deep pull-up bomb, that cut the margin to 33-27 at the buzzer.
The basket ignited the game-closing 17-point Mustang run. It was also the third trey of the night for Sheffield, who was nearly speechless after North Moore’s victory
“It feels amazing to win on Union Pines’ court, because I have a lot of friends that go here,” said Sheffield. “To finally be able to beat them, feels so good because I have played with these girls before and I know how solid they are. It is just awesome that we could come out and beat them at their place like we did.”
Vike head coach John Lewkowicz only saw his team lose once at home last season. After the contest, he spoke about what led to his team’s final-quarter collapse.
“We just stopped moving,” Lewkowicz said. “We shut down on offense and stopped moving. Still we had a big enough lead where we should have put the hammer down, but we didn’t and you have to give North Moore lots of credit. They battled to stay in the game all night and then got that late charge going and we backpedaled.”
Sheffield finished with nine points, seven boards, four assists and two steals for North Moore, while Davis had seven points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Junior point guard Dasia McCrimmon led the Vikes in scoring with nine points, along with three steals. Senior shooting guard Alex Parris and sophomore forward Tiffany Hicks each had eight points for Union Pines. Tyler Ross led the Vikes with nine rebounds.
The Mustangs look to improve to 4-0 in 1-A Yadkin Valley Conference play Friday in Robbins, as they play host to league foe Gray Stone Day (3-2, 1-2) at 6 p.m.
Union Pines opens its 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference campaign Friday against the Douglas Byrd Eagles (1-3) at 6 p.m. in Cameron.
North Moore 8 10 9 14 — 41
Union Pines 11 12 10 0 — 33
North Moore: Brower 8 0-0 22, Sheffield 0 0-0 9, Davis 2 0-0 7, Lowe 0 0-0 3. Totals 10 0-0 41.
Union Pines: McCrimmon 0 0-0 9, Parris 1 0-0 8, T. Hicks 4 0-0 8, Ross 2 0-0 4. C. Hicks 1 0-2 2, Daley 1 0-0 2.Totals 9 0-2 33.
Three-point goals: (NM) 7 (Sheffield 3, Brower 2, Davis, Lowe); (UP) 5 (McCrimmon 3, Parris 2).
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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