UP Girls Clinch Second Place
Led by another dynamic performance from their captain duo of Crystal Hicks and Tyler Ross, Union Pines topped Westover 61-46 Thursday on senior night in Cameron.
With the victory, the Lady Vikings improved to 17-6 on the season and wrapped up their 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference (CFVC) campaign with a second-place finish at 10-2.
Ross, a 5-foot-10 forward, tallied a team-high 21 points and a game-high 20 rebounds. The junior captain also registered five assists, three steals and three blocks.
Hicks, a senior point forward and third-year captain, notched a triple-double in her final regular-season home game, finishing with 11 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
“This was an emotional night for sure,” Hicks said, “very much so, I was holding back tears out there. To come out on top to get that win for senior night, in a physical game, felt really good.”
After the game a ceremony was held at half court to honor Hicks and fellow Viking seniors Chantele Carr, Amanda McCoy and Alex Parris. Carr then spoke about the emotions she was feelings just before the tip of the boys’ game
“As a group we really have a tight bond,” Carr said, “and it has been great playing with these girls. We really got a chance to get to know each other well on and off the court, which has kind of made it bittersweet tonight, because soon we will all be going our own separate ways.
“Even still it has been a great experience for me — one I will always carry with me and would not trade away.”
Union Pines held a sizeable 37-17 advantage at intermission, but Wolverine guard Airico Williams exploded in the third period, scoring 13 of her game-high 25 points in dazzling fashion. Her dominate performance helped cut the Vike lead to 45-34 by the end of the quarter.
Westover’s run continued as play entered the final quarter. A Williams’ bucket on a fast break made the score 45-40 at the 5:33 mark. But Union Pines then closed the game on a 15-6 run featuring five buckets from Ross, including a three-pointer from the top of the key.
Vike coach John Lewkowicz took time after the tilt to speak about each of his four senior players.
“Amanda has been on the varsity for three years,” he said, “and she is just really loyal, dedicated and works hard every single day with a great attitude. She really does have a great personality and is just the sort of senior you want on the team. She puts in the time, and works hard in practice to make her teammates better. She is one of those kids that is a perfect model when you are trying to describe what a team (player) is.
“Chantele is the same way, she and Amanda are like two peas in a pod, just a couple of great kids, as well as great students that are well respected by the faculty here (at Union Pines.) They also just give all they have at every practice and whenever they hit the floor — they really love the team and we love them.
“This was also Alex’s third year, and she was behind some pretty special guards in her rotation her first two seasons. But once she got the opportunity to shine she has. Last year she hit some big shots in huge games for us. She is one of those shooters where if she gets off when the game starts by hitting a few open shots, it sets the pace for us, and she did that tonight.”
Lewkowicz spoke last about Hicks, who joined the team in his second year as the head coach. Over her Viking career, as a four-year starter, Union Pines has won two postseason sectional titles and twice advanced to the state regional semifinals, while finishing no worse than second in the CFVC regular-season standings.
“Early on in her freshman year you could tell Crystal had a great feel for the game,” said Lewkowicz. “Each year she has improved from that initial solid foundation. We needed her to be a top scorer this year and she did that.
“She is a rare breed in the fact that she is really good at every aspect of the game. She plays this game like a good chess player, always thinking two or three plays ahead. Her feel for the game in terms of where the ball needs to go and where the defense needs to be or shift is uncanny — it is just tremendous.
“In addition she is great under pressure. While she is quite laid back off the court, when it is ‘game time’ she’s tenacious out there and is all about business. She has played more varsity game than maybe anybody in the history of the school and is truly a once in a lifetime player — just a very special person.”
Westover 6 11 17 12 — 46
Union Pines 19 18 8 16 — 61
Westover: Williams 7 8-11 25, Jackson 1 4-4 6, Cradle 2 0-0 4, A. Simmons 2 0-0 4, R. Simmons 2 0-2 4, Trippett 0 3-4 3. Totals 14 15-21 46.
Union Pines: Ross 9 2-2 21, C. Hicks 4 2-4 11, Coxe 3 0-0 7, T. Hicks 3 0-0 6, Parris 2 0-0 5 McCrimmon 2 1-2 5, Molek 1 0-0 2, Greene 1 0-0 2, Evans 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 5-8 61.
Three-point goals: W 3 (Williams 3) ; UP 4 (Coxe, C. Hicks, McCrimmon, Parris).
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