Bears, Tigers Top Vikes
The Union Pines Vikings boys’ basketball team dropped a pair of contests Tuesday and Wednesday to close out the pre-holiday portion of the season riding a seven-game losing streak.
Wednesday the Vikes traveled to Chapel Hill for a nonconference tilt that ended with a 65-40 loss to the Chapel Hill Tigers (6-2) from the 3-A Carolina Confer-ence.
Chapel Hill carried a comfortable 35-13 lead into halftime of the ballgame, before scoring 24 points in the third quarter to push its margin to 59-32.
The Vikings struggled mightily putting the ball in the basket against the Tigers, scoring in single digits in every quarter of the non-league tilt but the third (19 points) on Wednesday. Senior captain Matthew Maness led Union Pines in scoring with 20 points, followed by sophomore Malik Crawford with six.
With the defeat Union Pines moved to 3-8 on the season. Each of the Vikes’ three wins on the year have been against 1-A opponents from the Yadkin Valley Conference.
It was the Viking defense that struggled Tuesday in their 74-69 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference loss to the Gray’s Creek Bears at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron.
Through three quarters of action the Vikings trailed the Bears 59-46. Gray’s Creek (6-2, 2-0 CFVC), extended its lead to 67-48 at the 5:22 mark of the fourth period.
From there Union Pines mounted a 16-2 run against the Bears’ reserves, cutting the score to 69-64 with 1:14 left in the game. Senior forward Jeff Thompson scored eight points and had two assists in the surge that also featured deep treys from sophomore Tyler Packer and Maness, along with a bucket in transition by senior forward Dionte Williams.
Ultimately neither time nor luck was on Union Pines’ side, as the Vikings’ valiant comeback bid fell short. The loss saw Union Pines slip to 0-3 in CFVC play.
“Right now we seem to be a quarter away from being able to truly compete,” said Boney Tuesday. “Sometimes it’s the third quarter, and in some games it’s the second. Then we get so far behind it is really tough because we are playing catch-up.”
Union Pines’ average margin of defeat during its current seven-game slide is 16.43 points, as the Vikings have yet to get a win in December. On defense the Vikes have yielded 24-plus points in 10 of their last 20 quarters of action on the hardwood.
Thompson led the Vike effort Tuesday with a career-high 20 points. He also finished the game with 14 rebounds for his first career double-double. Maness connected five times from downtown on his way to a 17-point effort, along with six assists and two steals. Williams finished with a 12-point, 11-rebound double, while Crawford also hit double figures in scoring for Union Pines, tallying 10 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
Senior forward Deiontae McMillan scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the first half Tuesday for Gray’s Creek. He complemented his big night scoring the rock with nine rebounds. Sophomore swingman Jeff Gibson had 14 points at intermission and finished with 20 on top of eight rebounds, four assist three blocks and two steals. Also landing in double digits for the Bears was senior post player Xavier Washington with a 10-point, 13 rebound double-double.
Union Pines does not return to action until Dec. 27, when it opens its three-game, three-day venture into the 2012 Chatlee Boat and Marine Christmas Shootout hosted by Lee County High School in Sanford.
Gray’s Creek 15 27 17 15 — 74
Union Pines 17 17 12 23 — 69
Gray’s Creek: McMillian 10 8-14 30, Gibson 9 1-4 20, Washington 4 2-3 10, M. Morning 3 1-4 7, K. McDowell 2 1-2 5, DJ Gathers 0 2-2 2, 11. D. Freeman 0 0-2 0. Totals 28 15-31 74
Union Pines: Thompson 9 2-2 20, Maness 6 0-0 17, Williams 5 2-2 12, Crawford 4 0-0 10, Packer 3 0-0 8, L. Davis 0 2-2 2. Totals 27 6-6 69.
Three-point goals: GC 3 (McMillan 2, Gibson); UP 9 (Maness 5, Crawford 2, Packer 2).
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