Vike Boys Get First League Win
The Union Pines boys’ basketball team closed a day of celebration Friday at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron with an 87-81 overtime league victory over Western Harnett.
The thrilling win provided the proverbial cherry on top of what was both senior night and half of fame night at Union Pines High School. The tilt also left a large, vociferous Viking crowd jubilant yet drained after an old-fashioned barnburner of a 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference classic clash on the hardwood.
Union Pines seniors Matthew Maness, Jeffrey Thompson and Dionte Williams all played critical roles in helping the Vikings earn their first CFVC win of the season.
Maness played the entire 36 minutes of the game on his way to totaling 20 points, including four treys, along with 10 assists, six steals and four rebounds. Thompson finished the night with an 18-point, 11-board double-double, while Williams added eight points, eight boards and three steals to the stat sheet.
“This was the best way to close out my senior night as a Viking,” said Maness, a three-year Vike captain. “We are 5-20 [really 5-18] on the season, but right now that is irrelevant. Tonight everybody is on Cloud Nine from the seniors to the sophomores.
“We had five seniors go out with a bang tonight but it took every single person on this team to make it happen. So I could not paint a better picture for the night.”
With the victory Union Pines moved to 1-10 in league play and 5-18 overall to snap a 10-game losing streak.
At halftime of the varsity girls’ game Maness, Thompson and Williams were joined by fellow seniors Trey Crumel and Mike Quick in a recognition ceremony at center court.
After the game, once most of the crowd had hit the exits, Thompson, who has signed to play collegiate baseball next year at Pembroke, spoke about how special an evening it had been for him.
“I will never forget this,” said Thompson, who did not play basketball as a junior to work fulltime on honing his impressive array of skills as a baseball player. “Tonight was the most fun I have had in a long time.
“It was an awesome experience. For the whole game, pretty much, the student section was going crazy and we were pumped up on the floor, everybody was yelling. The intensity never turned down tonight.
“Things just haven’t gone our way this year but that is just part of basketball. So it was great to come out on top tonight after a long season and get our fans this win.”
Friday’s roundball battle was the third between the Vikings and visiting Eagles this season. Union Pines won the first meeting by a tally of 69-66 on a buzzer beater from downtown by Maness in the 2012 Lee County Holiday Classic in Sanford. In the second game of the series Western Harnett prevailed on its home court by a final of 52-38 in Lillington.
Union Pines jumped out to an early 14-11 lead through one quarter in Friday’s rubber match as sophomore Malik Crawford scored six points in the frame while Maness had two steals and three assists.
By halftime Maness had four assists, four steals and two rebounds but had only connected once from the field for two points, while Thompson led the Vikings with eight points and five boards.
Western got 11 points from senior guard Da’Sean Hazelrigg and eight points apiece from 6-foot-4 junior swingman Jonathan Buie and 6-foot-3 senior center William Carter to carry a 31-29 lead into halftime.
The Vikings started to heat up from the field in the third quarter. Maness made three assists and sank two threes in the period. His first gave the Vikings a 36-34 edge at the 6:15 mark and his second pushed the margin to 56-45 with 2:20 left in the quarter.
However, Western was able to close out the stanza on a 7-1 run to trail by a score of 57-52 as the action moved to the fourth.
A bomb for three from the left corner by Maness pushed the Vike lead to 62-53 early in the fourth quarter, but every time Union Pines built a bit of breathing room Western Harnett managed to claw its way back.
Down the stretch Thompson and Williams were clutch from the foul line, each converted both ends of trips to the stripe in the final 2:17 to score the Vikes final four points of regulation. Williams gave Union Pines a 71-69 lead and Thompson put the Vikes on top 73-71 with 1:29 left on the clock.
With 1:16 remaining in regulation Buie made one of his nine assists on the night on a dish after penetrating that resulted in a bucket by Carter. The layup would stand as the final two points in the fourth period, sending the game into overtime.
Union Pines seized control from the start of the extra four-minute period and never lost its edge. After converting on both ends of a double-bonus at the line, Maness made a steal near the top of the key and raced down court to convert a fast break chance to give his squad an 81-77 lead with 1:44 remaining.
Western never would recover. Thompson sank two free throws with 1:06 left to play giving the Vikings an 84-79 edge. Western then went to the line with 1:01 remaining and missed two shots, effectively making the rest elementary.
Buie had a huge outing for the Eagles tallying game highs in scoring and boards with a 23-point, 16-rebound double-double. The dynamic junior just missed a triple-double as he tallied nine assists to go with four steals.
Viking sophomore Tyler Packer scored 13 points and junior 6-foot-4 forward Darin Carlyle had 14 points and nine rebounds. Crawford made five players for Union Pines in double-digit scoring with 14 points on top of six boards and three steals.
Union Pines closes the regular season next Thursday, Feb. 14, in Fayetteville, against CFVC first-place Westover (17-4, 9-1) at 7:30 p.m.
Western Harnett 11 20 21 21 8 — 81
Union Pines 14 15 28 16 14 — 87
Western Harnett: Jonathan Buie 11 1-4 23, Da’Sean Hazelrigg 7 1-4 17, William Carter 6 2-4 14, Rory Saliger 4 2-2 13, Elliot Terry 3 4-5 10, R. Rozier 1 0-4 2, B. Crosby 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 10-23
Union Pines: Maness 5 6-6 20, Thompson 7 4-4 18, Crawford 6 2-6 14, Carlyle 4 6-16 14, Packer 5 2-4 13, Williams 3 2-2 8, A. McCoy 0 0-1 0, J. Poole 0 0-1 0. Totals 30 22-40 87
Three-point goals: Western Harnett 5 (Saliger 3, Hazelrigg 2); Union Pines 5 (Maness 4, Packer 1).
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