The Union Pines Vikings girls basketball team picked up a road win Wednesday night against the Western Harnett Eagles. The Vikings jumped out early and led for most of the game, but it was an Eagles comeback attempt that kept the Vikings on their toes late in the contest. Union Pines closed late and came away with the 35-26 win.
With 3:29 left in the fourth quarter, the sides were tied at 24 apiece. Coach Anissa Little called a timeout to gather her team. The Vikings (3-7) took the lead out of the timeout, but the Eagles (6-6) scored one of their own. Going back and forth until the Vikings defense held the Eagles scoreless in the final two minutes.
“‘First of all we’re not down, like we haven’t lost the game so calm down, let’s run our stuff, take good shots, and play good defense.’ That basically was the message, there’s no reason to fret, it's a tied ball game and I felt like we were okay,” Little said of her message during the timeout. “I felt like we kind of lulled a little bit, but we just had to pick up our intensity and get it done on defense and let our defense transition to our offense, and then go up strong to the basket and that’s what happened.”
The Vikings started the first quarter off fast jumping out to a 10-2 lead before the Eagles started to trim the lead heading into the second quarter. The second quarter was a little rough for both sides, but the Vikings managed to maintain the lead and went into the half with a 15-9 lead.
“I like how today we came out with a lot more energy and we were more talkative today than we had been. I think it really helped us in the long run,” sophomore Taryn Pekala said. “She was just telling us we were in this game, we deserve this win and how if we play the way we play and the way that we’ve been taught. We had to follow through with everything we’ve learned, and that it would all go as planned and it did.”
In the third quarter, the Eagles couldn’t get much of anything going, trailing 20-12 entering the fourth quarter. The Vikings then saw their lead start to trim as the Eagles made it a three-point game within minutes, but the Vikings managed to hold on for the road win.
“We’re not losing but we were not winning and we should be winning. We should’ve been up by way more if we made our layups, so it just gave us intensity to come back stronger and just stay strong,” Pekala said.
Pekala led the way for the Vikings finishing with 12 points, Corryn McCutchen followed with 11 and Meghan McCaskill and Mikayla Dunn had four each. Other Viking contributors were Allie Bauer with two and Savannah McCaskill with one point.
The McCaskill sisters led the way in rebounds with Savannah pulling down 10 and Meghan had nine.
“I liked the way we continued to fight, especially when they came back and got the lead. basketball is a game of runs and you try and tell kids that you can’t get shaken because a team makes a run, and I told them at halftime we wanted to extend the lead and not allow them to stay close because they may get a lot of confidence. Things started going their way and well that happened,” Little said. “But this helps us learn from it and we were pretty much able to lead the whole game until the last two minutes when they went up by one and we learned how to not lose our composure.”
The Vikings travel to Richmond Friday night for a conference battle with the Raiders beginning at 6 p.m.
“It definitely needs to be a win for us, we’re 0-2 in the conference, we need a conference win. That's what I told them, it was great to get this win tonight but we have to win on Friday,” Little said. “It’s a conference game and we want to make the playoffs so we got to get some wins under our belt. We just have to go in with intensity the whole game and I feel like we struggle with that at times and when our intensity goes down our defense, offense so we just gotta not match peoples intensity we gotta make them match ours.”
Vikings Rebound With Dominant Win over Eagles
The Union Pines Vikings boys basketball team picked up a road win Wednesday night against the Western Harnett Eagles. Despite a slow start, the Vikings found their stride to build momentum. The Vikings led the whole game en route to a 58-41 win.
The Vikings (7-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead early, and late in the first quarter they started to find the basket to extend their lead 16-5 heading into the second. The lead eventually grew to 23-9 late in the second quarter. The Eagles (1-11) seemed to have no answer for the Vikings offense as Union Pines led at the half 30-17.
The Vikings kept things rolling in the second half as they would bounce back from a tough loss Tuesday night and take down the Eagles on the road.
“I just told them yes you have a bad start offensively, but we gotta get quicker a little bit and some confidence going into conference play so told them don’t be scared. If you have an open lane, take it. I’m not going to pull you out for taking a shot. Defensively we have to be more aggressive and once were aggressive on defense that leads to better transition points,” Union Pines coach Zach Marks said. “The second half was OK I thought. We started the third quarter really well and kind of into the fourth quarter, then got some subs in and I thought they performed well and it kind of helps as the season progresses we can see what they can do to help us down the stretch.”
Trent Hilburn led the way for the Vikings with 14 points, followed by Jaylen Kyle with 12 points and Aiden Leonard with 10 points. Other Viking contributors were Demari Patterson with eight points, Owen St. John and Jyrel Blue with three each, Zion Kiser with four on the night and Jackson Sales and Melan Mulla with two each.
“I thought we held up the pressure well and made them force a few turnovers and that turned into easy transition points,” Hilburn said. “We got to keep this as practice and focus on stuff that we need to work on with a big game on Friday coming up.”
The Vikings will travel to Richmond Friday night to take on the Raiders. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“I just told the guys in the locker room , all of us know how good of a team Richmond is. They got a bunch of shooters, that why I kind of got on our guys tonight about playing defense,” Marks said. “I told them that if they were scared or they were gonna back down to anybody then don’t even show up to practice, and I think the guys will respond to that and we’ll come into Friday night game just like it’s any other game.”