January 22, 2010
In what could be looked at as a "fortuitous" Friday night Cape Fear Valley conference roundball match up, Union Pines travels to Spring Lake tonight to take on the Overhills Lady Jaguars at 6 p.m..
The ramifications of the game loom large for both squads:
Union Pines (12-5), currently second place in the league standings at 4-2, is riding a four-game winning streak and is arguably playing its best basketball of the season.
Overhills (14-2) sits atop the CFV standings with a mark of 5-1. Two of the Lady Jags wins this year have come against Union Pines and both featured fourth quarter comebacks. In fact, Overhills has utilized major fourth-quarter comebacks to win its last three battles with Union Pines:
- The Lady Vikes dropped their conference opener at home to the visiting Jags back in early December. In that tilt Union Pines held a 38-33 lead to start the final period and were up 47-45 with 2:33 to play. However Union Pines was unable to secure team rebounds on missed free throws by the Jags as Overhills' Felicia Bennett had two put backs and scored Overhills final six points to rally her team to a crucial 55-53 road win.
- Union Pines and Overhills met for a second time this season in Sanford for the Championship game of the (Lee County Senior High) Chatlee Shootout over the holiday break. Again Union Pines would take a lead into the final period only to see Overhills storm back and snatch the title from the Vikes. With one quarter remaining in the tilt, Union Pines was up a 42-34 and seemed poised to put Overhills away. Alas the Lady Jaguars outscored the Vikings 23-8 in the final period to win by a score of 57-50. As play began in the decisive final quarter, Overhills wasted little time getting back into the ball game. Senior Jag Miraya Gentry opened the period off with a deep three to cut the Vike lead to five points. Her fourth trey of the game, from 24-feet out, made the score 46-44 in favor of Union Pines with 4:30 remaining. Next, Bennett grabbed a defensive board and went coast to coast converting to square the affair. The Vikings then offered a reply in the form of back to back jumpers to grab a 50-46 lead with 2:54 left in the game. But down the stretch it was ball security that would prove to be Union Pines undoing as it committed five turnovers in a just over a minute span. As a result the Lady Jags would score the final 11 points of the game to claim the championship crown.
- In last season’s CFV conference semi-finals against the Lady Jags, Union Pines held a 20-15 lead at intermission behind nine points from junior guard Alishia Mosley. The Vikings would extend that lead to 27-19 with 2:43 left in the third period on a fast break score from Tyesha McLean. Holding a 27-21 edge after three quarters of play, Union Pines was just 8 minutes away from finding themselves in position to play for the championship on their home court. However, Overhills outscored Union Pines 14-3 in the fourth period to earn its first win in three tries against the Lady Vikes, who had swept the regular season series.
In Union Pines last two league games, the Vikes have played strong team basketball led by senior guard Alishia Mosley. An all-state selection last season and a Division-I signee with the NC A&T Lady Aggies, Mosley has seemed to hit what can only be described as her "supercharged stride" of late. She has been scoring with stark efficiency in sundry ways (from beyond the arc, off the dribble, drives, post moves, from the foul line and more.)
Over her last four games Mosley is averaging 25.8 points per outing, and had a 21-point second half against Douglas Byrd to finish with 27 in the Vikes' last league game. Mosley has made 25 three-pointers in her last seven games and is shooting 67.6% from downtown over that span.
There is much at stake for both teams tonight, as they enter the second half of the regular season conference schedule. An Overhills' victory would put the Jags in the driver's seat at 6-1 in the league. Should the Vikes come away with the win, they would move to 5-2 in the conference and be in total control of their own destiny in terms of a regular season conference championship.
Although for the latter to occur, as fate would have it, Union Pines must once again scale the top of "Mt. Lady Jaguar" (which will be no easy task), and this time instead of slide back down...break on through, trek forward, and finally get over the hill.
-- F.W. Manning II