Inconsistent Vikes Fall to Lady Cavs
It was a tale of two quarters for the Union Pines Lady Vikings in the first half of its 38-37 league hoops loss to the Southern Lee Cavaliers Friday.
The Vikes came out looking up to the task on both ends of the court as they carried a 15-6 lead through one quarter of action at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron.
It was the third straight the loss for Union Pines, which dropped to 2-2 in 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference play and 6-9 overall. The Cavs, winners in five of their last six outings, moved to 3-0 in the league with the victory and 6-7 on the season.
Union Pines started the game in fine form and got things going with an 11-point run from the tip.
Featured in the opening period Vike surge were three steals from junior guard Lexie Coxe, two blocks and four points from freshman center Stephanie Johnson and four points from freshman MaRisa Smith.
Union Pines created eight Cavaliers turnovers while committing just three of its own in the frame to carry a comfortable nine-point lead into the second quarter.
The only downside to the Vikings early start was that Johnson was whistled for her second personal foul at the 3:52 mark of the first quarter. Sophomore forward Charlotte Holder did add three rebounds and three points down the stretch portion of the quarter with Johnson on the bench.
In the second quarter Southern Lee switched out of its man-to-man half-court set and into a 2-3 zone defense. The result was a Union Pines squad that seemed befuddled on offense.
“What happened to us in the second quarter tonight has kind of been our story,” said Vike head coach John Lewkowicz. “We have had quite a few games where we come out playing really well but then we get ahead of ourselves and lose focus of the big picture.
“Southern Lee made some adjustments and we didn’t respond to those changes really well. With a young team like ours it’s all part of the learning curve. When we get into those spots we need to take a collective ‘deep breath,’ and realize there is no need to rush things and lose patience out on the court.”
By quarter’s end the Vikings had committed 11 turnovers while scoring just two points as they limped into halftime with a 17-13 edge. Making matters worse was the fact that Johnson picked up personal foul No. 3 with 1:13 to go on the second-quarter clock.
The rest of the game was a dogfight right down to the final buzzer.
The Vikes opened up 26-19 edge at the 3:32 mark of the third quarter when Coxe connected on a three-ball bomb from 23 feet. Another trey for the Vikes on a swish by Bethany Daley from the left wing gave the home team a 31-23 lead with 1:40 to play in the period.
Still the Cavs hung tough, answering with the final four points on buckets in the paint as Union Pines carried a 31-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
Both squads had trouble maintaining possession in the final eight-minute period, as each time tallied seven turnovers a piece in the quarter.
Union Pines opened the frame with three straight turnovers, allowing Southern Lee to grab a 32-31 lead at the 7:00 mark.
The Vikings regained the lead at 33-32 with 5:22 remaining on the clock when senior wing Dasia McCrimmon connected on an assist to a cutting Anna Jackson. The Cavs tied the tilt at 33-all by making one of two attempts from the line at the 5:02 mark.
Union Pines soon committed its sixth turnover of the quarter with 4:24 remaining in the contest. After a timeout the turning point of the game occurred when Johnson committed her fifth foul on a made three-pointer by Southern Lee junior guard Jordanna Kalkhof.
The result was a 36-33 lead for the Cavs and a disqualification for Johnson, who closed out her night with seven points, nine rebounds, five blocks and three steals.
Southern Lee extended its lead to 38-33 on a transition basket from Jasmine McIver to Tiarra Bland with 1:30 remaining.
Union Pines closed the game on a four-point run, as Smith managed to close the gap to 38-35 with a drive through the lane, and sophomore reserve Megan Harris got a steal and an assist to Rachel Breasseale with 42.2 seconds left to play.
Time eventually ran out on the Vikings, as they missed a potential chance at a go-ahead bucket with under three seconds remaining on a try from behind the arc by Daley that fell short.
“These lapses we are having, where we get that tunnel vision are costly,” said Lewkowicz. “They take us out of our momentum and oftentimes lead to us getting in foul trouble like we did tonight.”
Smith also fouled out of the game with 8.1 seconds remaining.
“We just have to take tonight’s game as a learning tool in our path to growth,” said Lewkowicz. “It is another prime example of the importance of staying in control and not allowing ourselves to rise up too high or get down too low.
“Even still it is a process and I was proud of the girls tonight. They gave themselves a chance to win and that is all you can ask.”
Smith led Union Pines in scoring with eight points along with four steals and seven rebounds. Holder had seven points and 11 rebounds, while Coxe finished with five assists and six steals.
Southern Lee senior point guard Brianna Taylor finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, five steals and five assists. Erin Pickens pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds and scored five points.
The Vikings next take to the hardwood Friday, Jan. 11, for a CFVC game in Lillington against Western Harnett (0-12, 0-3) at 6 p.m.
Southern Lee 6 7 14 11 — 38
Union Pines 15 2 14 6 — 37
Southern Lee: Taylor 4 3-5 11, A. Owens 2 2-6 6, Pickens 2 0-0 5, Bland 2 0-0 4, M. Cicogna 2 0-0 4, Kalkhof 1 0-0 3, McIver 1 0-0 3, T. Boykin 1 0-1 2. Totals 15 5-12 38.
Union Pines: Smith 4 0-2 8, Johnson 3 1-2, 7, Holder 2 3-6 7, Coxe 1 1-2 4, Jackson 2 0-2 4, Daley 1 0-0 3, Breasseale 1 0-0 2, C. Evans 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 5-14 37.
Three-point goals: Southern Lee 3 (Pickens, Kalkhof, McIver); Union Pines 2 (Coxe, Daley).
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