Union Pines Boys Roar Back to Knock Off Bears
The Union Pines boys’ basketball team trailed league foe Gray’s Creek 27-13 through one quarter Wednesday in Hope Mills, but fought back to earn a 74-66 comeback victory.
At the 6:50 mark of the second period, Union Pines dropped way down and almost out, before battling back from a 35-17 deficit to tie the game at 41-all at the half.
From there the Vikings run continued as Union Pines built a 56-50 lead through three periods of play. Matthew Maness (two) and Lashun Brower (two) combined to sink four treys in a critical stretch — spanning the late third quarter through the mid-fourth — that proved essential in putting Union Pines over the top.
After the game, Viking head coach Nick Boney discussed the significance of the win, as well as how his squad fashioned such a spirited comeback on the road.
“I felt like this was a game we needed to have,” said Boney. “Not wanting to start 0-2 in league play, we needed a win and tonight the guys came out and really played hard for me. We had quite a deficit we had to come back from there in the first half, and there was not any quit in my guys — they put it all out there for me.”
With the victory Union Pines improved to 1-1 in CFVC play and 5-2 overall, while the Bears moved to 5-3 and 1-1 in the CFVC.
Parris Manning put on a dazzling display in his first game back in action for the Vikings in two weeks. An ankle injury sidelined the 6-foot-3 senior captain for Union Pines’ previous three tilts, but he returned to the starting lineup Wednesday to finish with 21 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
“Having Parris back, with the caliber player he is, meant a lot,” said Boney. “In the last two practices leading up to this game, the morale of the team was noticeably higher with him suited up and on the court. Everybody was just upbeat and excited.”
In a pivotal second-quarter performance, Manning made several tough baskets to score 12 points along with three assists, three rebounds and two steals during the Vikes’ comeback
“When Parris was down, I think they (the team) were down,” said Boney. “With him not being able to play the last few games it showed — so I feel like his being back sort of lifted us to this victory.”
Junior 6-foot-4 Viking guard Braxton Ross also had a huge night with 16 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks.
As Union Pines took the floor with the score tied at 41-all to start the third quarter, Ross and Manning both had strong periods, as did senior forward Charles Steadwell. The result was a resolution to the momentum flux of the closing four minutes of the first half, as the Vikings began rebounding with authority, taking care of the ball on offense and knocking down some critical buckets in clutch situations.
Overall, the third quarter featured five lead changes. In a back-and forth start to the frame, Manning made consecutive buckets to give the Vikes a 49-47 lead with 4:30 on the clock.
Ross had two steals, three assists and one big bucket in the quarter, when he scored after swiping an in-bounds pass to give Union Pines a 53-50 lead at the 1:30 mark. He then connected with Brower, who swished home a three-point shot from the right wing giving Union Pines its 56-50 through three quarters of action.
After the Bears lit it up from downtown in the opening 17 minutes, making seven treys over that span, Union Pines only allowed the home team two more bombs on the night. In contrast, the Vikes heated up from long range at the perfect time. Another bomb by Brower, on an assist from Ross, gave the visitors a 60-54 edge with 5:33 left to play in the tilt.
Maness then entered the game at the 5:30 mark, during a dead ball, and proceeded to bang home back-to-back long balls. The second shot found the bottom of the net with 3:38 remaining to give Union Pines a 66-58 lead.
However, the junior captain was just getting started as he then made a steal and got the assist on an uncontested bucket down court by Malik Crawford. The layup pushed the Union Pines lead to 10 points, at 68-58, with 3:12 left to play.
Manning kept the run going with a powerful take through the lane that made it a 70-58 Viking advantage at the 2:44 mark. Then, after a bucket down low from Ross, Maness delivered the final dagger with 29.1 second left on the clock when he connected on both ends of a one-and-one situation, bringing the game to its final 74-66 margin.
Union Pines closes the week tonight with a league tilt against the Southern Lee Cavaliers (3-1, 2-0) scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. in Lee County.
Union Pines 13 28 15 18 — 74
Gray’s Creek 27 14 9 16 — 66
Union Pines: Manning 10 0-1 21, Ross 7 2-4 16, Maness 3 2-2 10, Brower 3 0-0 8, S. McRae 3 0-2 6, Steadwell 2 0-0 4, Williams 2 0-0 4, Crawford 1 1-2 3, Davis 1 0-0 2. Totals 32 5-11 74.
Gray’s Creek: Wallace 6 1-2 18, McMillian 5 3-3 14, Rice 4 0-1 8, Gibson 3 1-2 8, Butler 2 0-0 7, Wade 2 0-0 4, Woods 4 0-0 4, Washington 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 5-8 66.
Three-point goals: (UP) 5 (Brower 2, Maness 2, Manning); (GC) 9 (Wallace 5, Woods 2, Gibson, McMillian ).
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