Viking Girls Play in Second Round Tonight
The Union Pines Lady Vikings opened the first round of the state 3-A basketball playoffs with a 52-33 victory over Triton Monday in Cameron.
Making the evening at Bob Ward Gymnasium all the more special was a record setting moment from Union Pines junior captain Tyler Ross.
The 5-foot-11 forward eclipsed the 1,000-career rebound mark early in the second quarter of the postseason tilt on an offensive putback at the 6:55 mark.
“Since I was a freshman this was something I had my sights set on,” said Ross. “That season Coach L (John Lewkowicz) asked us what our goals were and my individual goal was to reach 1,000 rebounds before I left Union Pines.
“My team goal I announced that same day was to do everything in my power to help the Lady Viking basketball team as much as I possibly could.”
Ross has made good on both goals in a big way. All the way back to the first time she laced up her sneakers for Union Pines she has been a vital factor in nearly every win she has been a part of since joining the team back in 2009. Now in her third postseason as a Viking, Ross has never been a part of a Union Pines’ playoff loss in the opening three rounds as the program has a record of 6-2 over that span, including two regional semifinal appearances and two sectional titles.
Overall, Ross finished with a 23-point, 16-rebound, double-double to go along with three steals, two assists and two blocks. With 1,010 rebounds to her credit, Ross is the first Union Pines basketball player ever to break the triple-digit barrier in boards. Meanwhile, the double-double was her 22nd of the season.
After the game she discussed her feelings about being in the second season for a third straight year and Union Pines’ expectations for the postseason as a team.
“We came out today, after having a practice this morning to try to get ready, not knowing much about Triton, and just played hard” she said. “It was nice to get the playoffs started in good style and is also pretty ironic because we did not win our regular season conference championship last season, but went to the sectional finals and won it. Hopefully, we will go back.”
Last season Union Pines finished second in the 3-A CFVC regular-season standings with a mark of 10-2, while Western Harnett won the crown with a mark of 11-1. Nevertheless, for a second straight year the Vikings won three games the first week, including the District 4 championship tilt to return to the East Region semifinals for a second straight time.
Joining Ross in double figures for the Vikings was senior captain Crystal Hicks. Despite battling a knee injury, the 5-foot-9 point forward tallied 10 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals in the tilt.
Hicks also spoke about her team’s prospects for the remainder of the week, making it clear Union Pines is eyeing a three-peat at the sectional championship level.
“After a slow start tonight our defense really got us going and helped get our offense going,” said Hicks. “We had not seen them and they had not seen us, so at first we had to feel the game out and get in the motion.
“We are going for the sectional championships — that’s our goal this week. So we are definitely looking forward to the opportunity to play in round two. We just have to play good defense and rebound in this next game.”
Hicks said she was maybe at 75 percent for the game, and was wearing a pressurized brace. After air-balling her first field goal attempt, she quickly heated up and drained four of her next five shot attempts from the field to close the first half with nine points.
“I came in a little early today to work on it (knee) to get it warm and ready,” said Hicks. “It forced me to change my shot a lot and use my upper body, which I worked on before at (the) shoot around and in practice. But during the game I didn’t even really think about it. I just used it and played.”
“I guess it is going to hurt me tonight when I am lying down. It hurt at the championship (CFVC tournament) game last Friday and it has been really sore, but I have been icing it down a lot.”
With the victory Union Pines improved to 20-7 on the season. As the fifth-seeded squad in the Mideast section, the Vikings will travel to fourth seed Asheboro (21-6) tonight, for a round-two playoff tilt. Asheboro cruised against 13th seed Douglas Byrd (9-15), on its way to a 68-34 opening-round victory.
The game between the Vikings and Asheboro Blue Comets is set to tip at 7 p.m.
Triton 8 6 9 10 — 33
Union Pines 13 17 10 12 — 52
Triton: McKoy 3 0-0 8, Smith 3 2-5 8, Hobson 2 1-2 5, Gaddy 2 0-0 4, Roberts 2 0-5 4, Caraway 1 0-2 2, McNair 0 1-4 1 Williams 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 5-19 33.
Union Pines: Ross 9 5-7 23, C. Hicks 4 1-2 10, Coxe 2 0-0 6, T. Hicks 2 2-2 6, McCrimmon 2 0-0 4, Evans 0 1-2 1, Greene 0 0-1 0. Totals 19 9-13 52.
Three-point goals: Triton 2 (McKoy); UP 3 (Coxe 2, C. Hicks).
More like this story