Lady Vikings Fall to Defending State Champs
The Union Pines Lady Vikings basketball team ran into a formidable and experienced foe Friday in Siler City when it took the court against the defending 2-A state champion Jordan-Matthews Jets at Frank N. Justice Gymnasium.
Featuring a frontline senior trio of 6-foot-2 center Erin Bristow, 5-9 power forward Taylor Paige and 6-foot small forward Mylia Garner, the homestanding Jets entered the nonconference tilt with a record of 6-0 on the season and riding a staggering 37-game winning streak.
In stark contrast, Union Pines brought a record of 2-3 into the ballgame in Siler City while coming off a 48-33 loss to 4-A Terry Sanford in Fayetteville and starting a lineup consisting of three underclassmen, including two freshmen.
Nevertheless it was the Vike squad in possession of a 12-11 lead when freshman forward Samantha Ring converted a bucket down low at the 4:22 mark of the second quarter.
Getting her number called early off the bench by head coach John Lewkowicz with 3:10 left to go in the opening quarter, Vike Dasia McCrimmon responded in fine fashion to get her team going. The 5-7 senior shooting guard bookended the first and second quarters with a pair of timely deep three-balls.
Her first long-range connection came with eight seconds left in the opening quarter to pull Union Pines within a basket at 9-7. Next McCrimmon unleashed a shot from deep beyond the top of the key that tickled the nylon, trimming what was once an early 8-2 Jet lead down to a point, at 11-10. The swish also prompted Jordan-Matthews head coach Jeff Stutts to call for a time out with 5:22 to go in the second quarter.
When the Jets took the floor after receiving their coach’s message, they started to play like a veteran defending state champion squad. In the four-plus minutes of the half Garner displayed some of her all-state and reigning 2-A championship game MVP form.
The result was a 10-point run by Jordan-Matthews to close the half featuring eight points, four rebounds, one steal and a skillful hop-step finish for a bucket at the buzzer by Garner to give her squad a 23-12 lead and all the momentum.
Union Pines did little for its cause in the closing minutes of the opening half, committing six turnovers in the final 4:30 of action.
“Early on we had a good run after getting behind early, which was encouraging,” said Lewkowicz. “Then we panicked a little bit — we threw the ball away some and got into one of those situations where we are trying too hard and then tunnel vision sets in. That is going to happen with us because we have a really young team, trying really hard. But these little flurries of losing our composure and patience are killing us.
“We have to use games like these as learning tools with respect to where we need to improve and work most on.”
Garner, who recently signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for Charlotte next school year, along with Paige and Bristow, carried the momentum the Jets had built to close the first half back to the court to start the third quarter.
Jordan-Matthews (7-0) caused havoc in a high pressure man-to-man defense as Union Pines turned the ball over seven times in the period and totaled just five points for a second straight quarter. With their possessions of the ball the Jets went to work as six different players scored while Paige and Garner dominated the boards.
The result was a 36-17 Jet lead at the end of the third quarter. Garner made an early exit from the tilt never seeing the court for fourth-quarter action. On the night she finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and four assists. Bristow was steady on both ends of the glass all night, tallying nine rebounds to go along with 12 points and three blocks. Paige provided the third prong of the Jets’ dynamic front court by scoring 13 points, snatching three steals and snagging six boards.
Union Pines managed to put more points on the board in the final quarter then it had scored in the first three periods combined.
MaRisa Smith scored five of her team-high seven points in the stanza. The freshman point guard also tallied a team high six rebounds in the tilt.
Senior captain Lexie Coxe did a little of everything for the Vikes, registering three points, four rebounds, three assists, five steals and a block, while 6-foot freshman forward Stephanie Johnson battled through flu-like symptoms to finish with five points, four blocks, three steals and four rebounds.
Union Pines (2-4) is back in action Tuesday in Fayetteville, where the Lady Vikings open their Cape Fear Valley Conference campaign against Douglas Byrd (0-6) at 6 p.m.
Union Pines 7 5 5 18 — 35
Jordan-Matthews 9 14 13 14 — 50
Union Pines: Smith 3 0-2 7, McCrimmon 2 0-0 6, Johnson 2 1-1 5, A. Jackson 2 0-0 4, Coxe 0 3-4 3 , M. Harris 1 1-2 3, B. Daley 0 2-2 2, C. Evans 1 0-0 2, S. Ring 1 0-0 2, R. Breasseale 0 1-2 1. Totals - 12 8-13. Jordan-Matthews: Garner 5 3-3 14, Paige 5 3-4, Bristow 5 2-2 12, B. Pyrtle 2 2-2 6, O. Dunn 1 1-1 3, M. Poe 1 0-0 2. Totals - 19 11-12 50.
Three-point goals: Union Pines 3 (McCrimmon 2, Smith) ; Jordan-Matthews 1 (Garner).
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