Bears Hand Union Pines Tourney Loss
BY F.W. MANNING II
The Viking basketball team that took the court in Monday’s opening round of the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference Tournament showed barely any semblance to the same squad that two weeks ago thwarted Southern Lee’s regular season league title run at five with a resounding 62-51 victory that capped off a four-game Union Pines win streak.
By the end of its first round match-up with sixth-seed Gray’s Creek (8-14), the results spoke for themselves as third-seeded Union Pines was out-played, out-hustled and out-desired by the underdog Bears in a 77-51 drubbing.
After trailing 17-14 through one quarter, an early burst by the Bears in the second quarter pushed the margin to 25-16 at the 4:40 mark. From there Vike junior Braxton Ross and senior guard Parris Manning combined forces to keep their team in the game. A thunderous dunk in transition at the buzzer off a defensive board by Ross brought the score to 30-25 in favor of the Bears at intermission.
All but two of the Vikings first-half points came from the pair, as Ross had 12 and Manning had 11 at the break.
Meanwhile, the Bears were paced by a 12-point half by Jeff Gibson.
In the second half, Manning fizzled out for the Vikings, scoring just one more point in the tilt.
With junior captain Matthew Maness, the team’s point guard, three-point specialist and third leading scorer, missing his second straight game, the brunt of the offensive burden was thrust upon Ross.
The 6-foot-4 forward responded well, scoring five of the Vikings first seven points. Malik Crawford came off the bench to give Union Pines a spark in the third quarter. His second consecutive field goal of the frame cut the Bear lead to 39-34 with 3:08 left in the quarter, but the five-point deficit would be as close as Union Pines would ever get.
Leading 45-38 as the tournament contest entered the fourth quarter, Gray’s Creek opened the last stanza on a 13-2 run. The Bears captured a comfortable 58-43 edge on a drive down the middle of the lane by Deiontaie McMillian.
McMillian had nine of his 16 points in the quarter, while Rahsean Wade poured in 10. Gibson chipped in with seven points as the Bears ultimately outscored Union Pines 32-13 in the quarter to power their way into today’s semifinals at Westover High School in Fayetteville
Joining McMillan in double-figure scoring for the Bears was Gibson with a game-high 23 and Wade with a 20-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Aside from Manning’s 12-point effort, Ross was the only other Viking to score in double figures as he finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
The loss was the third in four games for the Vikes since defeating Southern Lee and second in a row, as they moved to 13-11 on the season with the early exit from the league tournament.
Fifth-seed Western Harnett (11-14) picked up a 66-58 win over Douglas Byrd (7-12) in Monday’s first tourney game and will face top-seed and CFVC champion Westover tonight in a 7:30 p.m. semifinal meeting in Fayetteville. Second-seed Southern Lee (15-3), which stomped seventh-seeded Overhills (5-17) by a 77-48 margin in Monday’s night cap, will play the Bears tonight in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. on Westover’s home floor.
Union Pines, which did qualify for the postseason via its 6-6 third-place finish in the conference standings will not know who it will face in the first round of the 3-A NCHSAA state playoffs until Saturday when the pairings are announced. However the Vikings do know they will be on the road and in search of their identity.
Gray’s Creek 19 11 15 32 — 77
Union Pines 19 18 8 16 — 61
Gray’ Creek: Gibson 8 7-10 23, Wade 10 0-0 20, McMillan 6 3-3 16, Wallace 2 1-1 5, Walker 1 1-2 3, Butler 1 0-0 2, Gathers 0 2-2 2, McDowell 1 0-0 2, Rice 1 0-0 2 Washington 1 0-0 2. Totals 31 14-18 77.
Union Pines: Ross 9 3-4 21, Manning 4 2-6 12, Brower 3 0-0 7, Crawford 2 1-3 5, Davis 0 3-4 3, Chalmers 1 0-0 2, Quick 0 1-2 1. Totals 19 10-19 51.
Three-point goals: GC 1 (McMillan); UP 3 (Manning 2, Brower).
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