Vike Boys Secure Third Place; Shift Focus to League Hoops Tourney
Despite being severely shorthanded, the Union Pines boys gave a good effort against Cape Fear Valley Conference first-place Westover on senior night Friday in Cameron.
With the loss Union Pines moved to 13-11 overall, but still managed to secure a third-place finish in the CFVC standings with a final league mark of 6-6 and secure a postseason berth in the process.
By qualifying for the playoffs the Vikes accomplished the second of two major goals they began the season determined to reach.
“The turnaround from last season to this was great,” said second year Union Pines coach Nick Boney. “The guys worked hard in the spring, on through to the summer, and all the way up to now. We have played 23 games this season and there have been some ups-and -downs, but they stuck together and played well when they needed to."
Last season Union Pines went 6-19 overall and placed sixth in the CFVC standings with a mark of 3-12.
Although they were without the services of starting point guard Matthew Maness and sixth-man junior guard Shane Davis, through one period the homestanding Vikings led 14-7.
Too many Union Pines turnovers coupled with a lack of execution on the defensive glass proved costly in quarter two. Westover (16-6, 11-1 CFVC), outscored the Vikes by 10 points in the stanza to carry a 29-26 lead into intermission.
A solid third period showing from the duo of Kendrick McRae and Lewis Chalmers helped keep the Vikings in the game, as the Wolverines held a 45-39 edge as the tilt entered the final frame.
Chalmers, a senior guard, score five timely points in the third quarter while McRae tallied five boards and two blocks.
A 12-foot baseline jumper by Vike senior guard Lashun Brower cut the Wolverine lead to 50-45 at the 5:03 mark in the fourth quarter, but it would be the closest Union Pines would get. Westover managed to hang on from there to get the victory and claim the CFVC regular season title – stopping Southern Lee’s consecutive regular-season championship streak at five.
Junior forward Braxton Ross led the Viking with 17 points on the night. Brower also hit double figures for Union pines with 13.
Senior swingman and Murray State Racer signee C. J. Ford led the Wolverines with a game-high 21 points. He also collected nine rebounds and doled out four assists on the night. Ford was joined in double-figures by teammate Alphonzo Josey, who scored 10 points.
After the game, Union Pines seniors Brower, Chalmers, Parris Manning and Charles Steadwell were honored before the game in a half court ceremony on the floor at Bob Ward Gymnasium.
In a change of format from recent years, all first-round CFVC tournament games will be played at the home of the second-seeded team this season.
The boys’ tournament begins Monday, in Sanford, at second-seed Southern Lee High School.
Fourth seed Douglas Byrd (7-11, 5-7) battles fifth-seeded Western Harnett (10-14, 5-7) at 4:30 p.m. in the opener. Then Union Pines takes the court against sixth-seeded Gray's Creek (7-14, 3-9) at 6 p.m.
Union Pines played Gray’s Creek twice this season, topping the Bears 74-66 on the road in mid-December. The Vikings later bested them again at home by a 93-78 tally in late January.
Monday’s nightcap pits the Cavs (14-3, 10-2) against seventh-place Overhills (5-16, 2-10) at 7:30 p.m. The tournament then shifts to Westover High School, in Fayetteville as the CFVC regular season champion Wolverines host the semifinals Wednesday. Game one is set to tip at 6 p.m., followed directly by the second semi-final contest at 7:30 p.m., which matches the Wolverines against the winner of Monday's #4/#5 game
As the second seed, Union Pines hosts the opening round of the girls' tournament Tuesday at Bob Ward Gymnasium.
Friday is title day as both CFVC championships games will be contested at the site of the highest remaining boys' seed in the tournament.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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