Maness' Buzzer-Beater Leads Vikings
A swish on a made basket from 28 feet by Viking shooting guard Matthew Maness gave Union Pines a 69-66 victory at the buzzer over Western Harnett Friday in Sanford to cap off a thrilling tournament basketball tilt.
The Vike victory over the 3-A Eagles (1-12) came on the floor of Donald E. Packard Gymnasium during the second day of the three-day Lee County Holiday Classic.
With the win, Union Pines snapped an eight-game losing skid while moving to 4-9 on the season. Maness tallied a game high 27 points for the evening along with five steals, five assists and four rebounds. After the contest the senior captain discussed the Vikes’ triumph and his last-second heroics.
“Before this game coach (Nick) Boney had a really good talk with us,” said Maness. “He told us that tonight needed to be the turnaround and we needed to have more heart within our team.
“Late in the game when we had the ball and it was tied with 28 seconds to go, coach Boney called a timeout. During the break he set up a play for me to go to the basket and get fouled. We took the floor and it worked perfectly.”
Typically Maness is as money as they come from the charity stripe, especially in the clutch. From a percentage standpoint, he is the best free-throw shooter to play for the Vike boys in over eight seasons with a success rate near 90 percent.
However Maness missed three of six attempts from the free-throw line in the final quarter Friday, including both tries on a trip to the stripe after drawing a foul on a drive in the paint with 12 ticks left on the clock.
On Maness’ second miss junior forward Darin Carlyle was able to get an offensive board. With another chance to give his team the lead, this time Maness did not miss. Instead he received an inbounds pass on the far left side of the court beyond the wing.
From there he took two dribbles and drained a 28-foot fall-away jumper that fell through the rim and into the net with one second remaining in the game. As the ball bounced to the floor the buzzer sounded, giving Union Pines its first win in nine outings.
“For some reason I couldn’t connect on those free throws,” said Maness. “I guess it was nerves or something. Then after Darin got the rebound by making a great play I gave him a congratulatory pat on the butt and told him and all my (other) teammates I was going to make it up to them.
“Luckily I was able to get enough on the final shot there and it dropped. I was pretty deep out and went down to the floor from contact on the release so I didn’t quite think it was going in. When I saw it hit the net it felt amazing. Having lost eight straight it is nice to be back in the win column.”
Maness’ game-winner was his eighth and final three-pointer of the night.
The Vikings opened the tournament Thursday with a 71-35 loss to the host 4-A Yellow Jackets to land in the losers’ bracket to face-off against 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference rival Western Harnett, which lost its opening game by a 67-44 tally to Jordan High. Union Pines was scheduled to face East Chapel Hill High (7-5) back at Packard Gym Saturday evening in the fifth-place game.
Early on in Friday’s clash of CFVC foes it was all Western Harnett, as the Eagles raced out to a 14-2 lead near the midway mark of the first quarter and extended the margin to 20-3 with 2:23 remaining in the period.
Baskets late in the frame from senior forward Jeffrey Thompson and sophomore point guard Tyler Packer cut the Union Pines deficit to 22-7 through one quarter of action. Then in the second quarter Union Pines heated up from the field and tightened up on defense.
Maness made all three of his attempts from downtown in the quarter. Sophomore swingman Malik Crawford finished the period with 11 points for Union Pines as the Vikings outscored the Eagles 25-10 in the stanza to tie the tilt at 32-all by halftime.
Union Pines had seven different players score in the third quarter as the Vikes took a 48-47 lead into the final frame. Throughout the fourth quarter the game remained tight. Union Pines held three-point leads at the 5:47, 5:07 and 4:02 marks but Western Harnett kept coming through with answers on the other end.
With less than two minutes remaining Maness sank his seventh bomb of the game, on a shot from 24 feet beyond the left arc to give Union Pines a 62-61 edge. A mere 10 second later Ziheem McLean connected on a three-ball from the left corner to give Western Harnett a 64-62 advantage.
The Vikes tied it again at 64-all when Maness found Crawford for a runner at the 1:18 mark.
Thompson went to the line for the Vikes 10 second later and made both his attempts to give Union Pines a 66-64 lead, but the Eagles scored in transition with 34 seconds left to knot the affair at 66-66 and set up Union Pines’ final possession.
Crawford finished the night with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals for Union Pines, while Carlyle led the team in rebounds with nine.
Western Harnett was paced by a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double performance from junior guard Jonathan Buie, which also included five assists, six steals and a block.
Senior guard Da’Sean Hazelrigg tallied four steals, four assists and three blocks and scored nine of his team-high 19 points in the first period of play.
The Vikings return to action Friday in a CFVC clash with Southern Lee at 7:30 p.m. in Cameron at Bob Ward Gymnasium. Union Pines is currently 0-3 in league action while the Southern Lee Cavaliers are 1-1 in the conference.
Union Pines 7 25 16 21 — 69
W. Harnett 22 10 15 19 — 66
Union Pines: Maness 8 3-6 27, Crawford 6 5-6 17, A. McCoy 3 0-0 7, Thompson 1 3-4 5, M. Quick 1 2-3 4, Packer 2 0-0 4, Carlyle 0 3-4 3, D. Williams 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 16-23 69.
Western Harnett: Hazelrigg 6 6-7 19, Buie 5 4-6 14, W. Carter 3 2-6 8, T. Carver 2 2-2 8, R. Saliger 3 1-1 8, E. Terry 3 0-0 6, McLean 1 0-0 2, B. Crosby 0 1-4 1. Totals 23 16-26 66.
Three-point goals: Union Pines 9 (Maness 8, McCoy); Western Harnett 4 (Carver 2, Hazelrigg, Saliger).
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