Union Pines Boys Start Hoop Season Tuesday
The Union Pines boys’ basketball team returns a large core of players from last year’s squad as it looks to rebound from a disappointing 6-19 campaign last season. Tuesday marks the start of the 2011-12 Viking hoops schedule, as Union Pines host Cardinal Gibbons at 7:30 p.m. in Cameron.
Nick Boney begins his second year as the Viking head coach with the nonconference tilt against the visiting 3-A Crusaders.
“The off-season went well for us,” said Boney. “We played 21 games this summer between team camp and three jamborees. Our team is shaping up well, our defense is what has impressed me the most so far and, in our two scrimmages, we have held other teams in check defensively.”
Overall, the Vikings return nine players with varsity experience. Included in that group are Matthew Maness, Ontrel Gilcrest, Lashun Brower, Braxton Ross, Kendrick McRae and Parris Manning — all of whom started at one point for Union Pines last year.
Also, back in the mix is sixth-man rebound extraordinaire Charles Steadwell, along with Luke Davis and Shakeem McRae. The Union Pines’ newcomers include senior Lewis Chambers, freshmen Tyler Packer and Malik Crawford, and juniors Michael Quick, Dionte Williams and Shane Davis, a transfer from Mississippi.
“Matthew Maness, Parris Manning, Braxton Ross and Charles Steadwell are the guys who have stood out this summer and preseason,” said Boney.
Maness, Manning and Ross each scored 20 or more points at least twice last season. Manning is a senior swingman that can create his own shot, drive, post-up hit the boards and light it up from deep.
Maness is a junior guard with deep range. While he serves as the Vikes’ top perimeter threat, Maness can also put the ball on the floor and go to the basket to score using a floater and runner, as he made his way to the free-throw line frequently last season where he shot close to 90 percent.
Ross is a post player with a solid mid-range jumper. The 6-foot-4 junior can score with his back to the basket, as well as off the dribble, and tends to get a large amount of buckets on the offensive glass. He also drew a considerably amount of shooting fouls last season, but struggled at time from the charity stripe.
The Vikings failed to qualify for the postseason last season, finishing their 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference campaign at 3-9. Boney is looking for his team to improve on that mark this year in league play.
“I would describe our team as athletic, fast and taller and more disciplined than last season,” said Boney. “Our goals this season include the playoffs as well as a top-three finish in our conference. I am very excited about my team this season. I feel we have a lot of talent that can compete with anyone on any given night.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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