Cavaliers Vanquish Vike Girls
Southern Lee backed up its regular-season league title with a 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference tournament championship Friday in Fayetteville by earning a 56-43 victory over Union Pines.
With the tournament title tilt win, played on the floor of top-seeded Westover High School boys’ squad, the champion Cavalier girls earned their third win over the Lady Vikings in four tries this season, while improving to 22-3 overall on the season.
In the night cap, second-seeded Southern Lee’s boys (17-3) made it a clean Cavalier conference tournament sweep, besting top-seed Westover (17-7) by a final of 46-39
Foul trouble, turnovers and nerves plagued second-seeded Union Pines in the opening half of the girls’ league championship game.
Defending league tournament champion Union Pines turned the ball over 18 times in the opening two quarters. Five of the squad’s six first-half field goals came from three-point land, while the Vikings were hesitant to take the ball to the basket or fire up any mid-range jumpers. In addition, 5-foot-11 junior captain Tyler Ross, the team’s top scorer, finished the opening half with no points and three personal fouls.
Considering his team played as tightly as it did and trailed by margins of 9-2, 16-8, 22-11 and 25-14 during the first half, head coach John Lewkowicz felt Union Pines was in a “pretty good” position at intermission. The Cavs held a 25-19 halftime lead.
“I thought we came out kind of tight,” Lewkowicz said, “so sure, the nerves were affecting us some. Also when Tyler (Ross) picked up (those) two quick fouls and then got that third one early in the second quarter, it was tough. She is a big part of our game plan.”
Ross had registered 21 double-doubles on the season prior to Friday’s final and averaged 20.5 points and 18 rebounds through the opening two round of the tournament. However, the junior captain missed over six minutes of action to close the second quarter after picking up her third personal foul.
“Even still I was thinking if we could just hang in there we could turn it around,” said Lewkowicz. “Especially at halftime — to be in the game despite knowing we had not shot our best or played very well — we were right there.
“It was close and I figured if we could just hang on through the third quarter, we could have a breakthrough sort of thing happen in the fourth (quarter). But every time we made a run, they answered back with one of their own. It was tough to keep coming back from that.”
Ross broke through early in the third frame. She scored her first basket on a strong putback to cut Southern Lee’s lead to 24-21, less than 30 seconds into the second half.
Back-to-back scores by Ross, both via the offensive glass, kept Union Pines within striking distance as the Cavs led 37-29 with 1:30 remaining in the period.
From there, Ross hit senior captain Crystal Hicks with a pass that led to a three-point play the hard way as the Vikes trailed 37-32 through three quarters of action.
The five-point deficit would be as close as Union Pines would manage to get, as Deshele Sumpter scored four points to spark a game-breaking 17-4 run by the Cavs.
Senior captain Yasmine Butler scored five straight during the Southern Lee surge. A swish from way downtown by the 5-foot-7 guard, after a crossover shakedown, gave her squad a 50-36 lead at the 2:40 mark.
With 2:29 left to play in the contest, Hicks went down hard while pursuing a loss ball. Clearly experiencing extreme discomfort, it took a few minutes for the tough as nails Vike captain to assume an upright-seated position so she could be helped off the court.
Despite a futile attempt on her own accord to journey towards the scorer’s table, Lewkowicz did not let Hicks return to action.
Ultimately junior point guard Brianna Taylor finished the flurry for Southern Lee, scoring four points to push the edge to 54-36 with 1:32 left in the game, putting a major stamp on the Cavalier girls’ sweep of the 2011-2012 CFVC hoops titles.
Hicks finished the game with a team-high 12 points, to go along with 13 rebounds and four steals. It marked the 14th double-double on the season for the four-year Viking starter. Ross collected 10 of her 13 rebounds in the second half and finished the night with eight points. Junior guard Dasia McCrimmon also had eight points for the Lady Vikings.
Butler led all scorers with 15 points. Jenkins scored 13 for Southern Lee, while Sumpter finished with 11 points and four steals. Senior 5-foot-11 Cavalier captain Jerraysheya Fox grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go with eight points.
After the game, Lewkowicz discussed Hicks’ injury and the message he gave his team as it enters the playoffs Monday as the second seed from the CFVC.
“In the end, Butler was the key” Lewkowicz said, “and down the stretch we had no answer for that. Us turning it over (29 times) does not help but you have to give credit to the Cavs. They are a very athletic, strong team. Butler wants the ball when it is tight and she delivered in this one.
“Crystal’s (Hicks) injury is on the lower left side of her left leg, below the knee. It is that ligament there we think. It is one of those things where the doctors will look at it and we will just have to wait and see.
“The thing I told my team in the end was to look at this from the positive side. We got into the finals, which was our goal. So we got a shot at it, but did not do it. Instead of maybe dwelling on the negatives, we talked about thinking about something positive like the fact this was our third straight time playing in the title game.”
Information pertaining to Union Pines opening round 3-A NCHSAA state playoff contest Monday was not available from the NCHSAA until after press time.
Check thepilot.com for updated information on the playoffs.
Union Pines 8 11 13 11 — 43
Southern Lee 14 11 12 19 — 56
Union Pines: C. Hicks 3 5-5 12; McCrimmon 3 0-0 8, Ross 4 0-0 8, T. Hicks 3 1-1 7, Coxe 2 0-0 6, Evans 1 0-0 2, Parris 0 0-2 0. Totals 16 6-8 43.
Southern Lee: Butler 5 3-4 15; Jenkins 4 4-4 13 Sumpter 4 2-2 11, Fox 3 2-7 8, Taylor 3 0-1 6, Bunnell 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 11-18 56.
Three-point goals: UP 5 (Coxe 2, McCrimmon 2, C. Hicks); SL 5 (Butler 2, Bunnell, Jenkins, Sumpter).
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