Viking Boys Struggles Continue in League Play
The Union Pines boys’ basketball team remained winless in league play with a 62-53 loss to Overhills Tuesday night at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron.
With the loss the Vikings dropped to 0-7 on the season in the 3-A Cape Fear Valley standings and moved to 4-15 on the season.
“As a collective group of guys this is probably the best group I have had since I have been here,” said Union Pines third-year head coach Nick Boney after the game. “Thinking about this team and the talent we saw when we made our final cuts and spent our first night together in this gym as a team — I would have never imagined being 0-7 in conference.
“Still I am not giving up on this team. I will never give up on them and they have not given up on each other. If we can win a few games and maybe get up in the standings to fourth place, then maybe we can see the state playoffs.
“In this conference anything can happen with this many games (five) remaining so we just need to play. We need to finish, compete and do our part.”
At the start of Tuesday’s tilt with the Jaguars, Union Pines competed well. The Vikes jumped out to an 11-4 lead with 3:44 left in the opening quarter behind strong rebounding from senior Dionte Williams, and solid transition offense led by sophomore guard Armani McCoy and senior captain Jeffrey Thompson.
In the teams’ first CFVC meeting in Spring Lake Overhills (11-5, 6-2 CFVC) romped its way to a 92-60 victory.
Through one quarter of action in Tuesday’s rematch the game was tied at 14-all. Overhills finished on top of a back-and forth second frame to take a 29-27 lead into halftime, but it was clear from the first two quarters Union Pines was up to the task of battling possession by possession and forcing Overhills to earn anything it was to get this time around.
“We knew we were going to play a zone tonight,” Boney said, “and because of that we told the guys last night (Monday) in practice that we were going to have to box out to limit their (Jaguars) second-chance tries and I think we did an excellent job of that for the most part.”
After the break, the two teams went back at each other blow for blow in a high-energy, action-packed third period. The Vikings got down 43-38 with seconds left in the quarter but trimmed that margin to 47-46 when senior captain Matthew Maness sank a trey at the top of the key at the buzzer.
In the final quarter Union Pines committed three turnovers before scoring its first points on a pull-up jumper by sophomore guard Malik Crawford. His basket made the score 52-48 in favor of Overhills. Crawford scored again on the Vikes next trip down the court to keep it a four-point game, but that would be as close as Union Pines would get.
“Our effort was better this time,” said Boney. “We were a couple of turnovers away from taking the lead probably, but we just never got our rhythm back once we lost it early in the fourth.”
Starting at the 4:48 mark of the final period, the Jags put the game on ice with a 9-3 run to take a 63-53 lead with less than 90 seconds left to play in the league clash.
The Jags had 11 players score in the game. Leading the way was the duo of junior guard Jared Foster and senior swingman Josh Mason each with 10 points. Senior center Robert Johnson led Overhills on the boards with nine rebounds.
Maness led Union Pines with 13 points. Crawford, Luke Davis and 6-foot-3 forward Thompson each scored eight points apiece. Williams had a game-high 14 rebounds on the night for the Vikings.
“Tonight we did compete,” Boney said, “and that is what I have been asking the guys to do. We can still improve and have time to get better and better.”
Heading into Friday’s slate of CFVC hardwood action Westover (14-4 overall) is tied atop the league standings with a conference mark of 6-1 alongside Southern Lee (9-8, 6-1). At 5-2 in the conference Overhills occupies the third spot, followed by Douglas Byrd (6-12) and Gray’s Creek (8-10) tied for fifth place with 3-4 records in league play. Western Harnett (2-17) is in the sixth spot with a CFVC record of 1-6, followed by Union Pines in seventh place.
The Vikings hit the road tonight to take on Gray’s Creek at 7:30 p.m. in Hope Mills.
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