February 19, 2010
After the Lady Vikings pulled out a 48-44 thriller over Western Harnett, in the second semifinal game of the CFV tournament at Union Pines, reporters from three different papers were frantically seeking out senior Alishia Mosley and junior Tyesha McLean.
And I don't blame them; the dynamic backcourt duo combined for 34 of Union Pines' points on the night and tallied a collective total of 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals and 3 blocks.
Mosley made two clutch free throws to seal the victory and sank 3 long-range, ground-to-nylon missiles in the final 10 minutes. Meanwhile, McLean caused havoc defensively all night, scored some key baskets in transition and grabbed three timely boards early on in the fourth period.
However, these two young ladies have been in the spotlight for three years now, and have twice combined to tally 47 points on the season. Mosley, an all-state selection and two-time first team all-conference selection, will be a member of the NC A&T Lady Aggies next season. McLean has been garnering lots of attention from several Div. I school; it is even rumored that a certain in-state ACC team with a penchant for the color red is among her many suitors.
So therefore, they have naturally appeared in a majority of my stories as featured voices for the Lady Vikes. As a result, I choose instead to talk to underclassmen Crystal Hicks (sophomore) and Tyler Ross (freshman) instead.
Hicks, a two-year starter, had a monster night collecting 18 rebounds, scoring 10 points, making 5 steals and doling out 5 assists. On the year she leads the Vikes in rebounding and steals. You can pretty much pencil her in for around 8-11 board a night and 4-6 steals.
When she saw me coming she smiled and said "Oh man I am going to get nervous." I responded by telling her she would be fine, and if she kept playing like that she had better get used to being interviewed. That got a giggle out of her and also lightened the tension as I began to discuss the game with her.
“I knew this was going to be a big game and everything because we had already beat them twice,” she said. “I knew they were going to come at us really hard and did not want to lose in the tournament. So I felt like I had to give it everything I had to help my team out and stuff and just play with my heart.”
Over her first two seasons Hicks has displayed the potential to be a potent outside threat when she is confident and in rhythm. At five-foot-seven, she has a long wing span. Her stroke is sweet and she gets it off quick. However playing alongside two prolific scorers (Mosley and McLean) that both can put 23 plus points in the books on any given night, the underclassman has usually opted to look to pass first, pass second and shoot at a last resort in a majority of her games.
“Tonight our shots just weren’t falling early on, especially Alishia who is our main threat. So I knew if her shots were not dropping that I needed to step up and help the team by shooting so I just took the looks when they were open for me.”
On the night she went 5-7 from the field, including sinking four shots from 15 plus feet out that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
Tyler Ross did not score on the night but had a huge impact, collecting 13 rebounds, three blocks while altering several of Western’s shots in the interior. She has scored 17 points once this season, twice went for 16 and also had a 15-point game. Her biggest performance came in the Vikes final regular season clash with Western, where she had 21 rebounds and 16 points; the Frosh has totaled more than 13 rebounds 6 times on the season.
“I was really feeling a bunch of pressure out there at first because the excitement early was really big and I wanted to help my team out,” said Ross. “I have never been in a game that was this important, at the varsity level, but once I got in the flow I was able to settle down and play my game.”
When I asked Ross if her rebound philosophy was more anticipatory, or reactionary, she said, “I think it is both.”
“I just go after the ball,” she said. “I am determined to get the rebounds whenever I take the floor and in the title game against Westover I will be determined again.”
The Vikes and Westover Lady Wolverines enter the CFV Tournament Final having split their regular season series. Each prevailed on their home court, as Westover won the first game 66-55. In the second contest, Mosley and McLean combined to score 47 points on the night as the Union Pines claimed a 51-39 win.
McLean scored a game-high 23 points, while finishing with six rebounds, five steals and four assists, while Mosley had 23 points, eleven rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
The Finals for both the boys' and girls games' will be played tonight at Westover. Douglas Byrds' boys upset the top seeded Cavs, and therefore Westover, the highest remaining boys' seed at the two spot will host the Tourney Championship games, with the girls' title tilt tipping off at 6 p.m.