By KEVIN WEAKS
Union City’s road to a possible return to Murfreesboro just got a whole lot shorter.
Using its defensive pressure to produce offense and shooting well from the perimeter, the No. 1-ranked Lady Tornadoes jumped out to a comfortable lead in the opening quarter and then played with a double-digit lead for most of the final three periods in a 53-32 win over Greenfield in the semifinals of the District 14A Tournament Thursday night in South Fulton.
Guaranteed to play at least two more games, the next one will be another short trip to SF for the league championship game. The one after that will be at home in the quarterfinal round of the Region 7A Tournament next week.
UC, last year’s 14A tourney runner-up, will play the host school in the title game Saturday night at 7:30. Greenfield, meanwhile, will play Lake County in the consolation game at 6. South Fulton knocked off the Lady Falcons 50-37 in the other semifinal game.
Union City (25-3) got a boost early on from three different phases of the game.
Jackie Hudson and Raven Fair, who led the team with 20 and 12 points, respectively, each knocked down a 3-point basket. Hudson and Tamara Nettles each scored on offensive rebounds, and both Fair and Kealie Reaves took Greenfield turnovers the other way for baskets.
In all, Union City led 15-4 at 1:39 before the Lady Yellowjackets got a six-foot runner from Kalee Kesterson and a three-point play by Brittany Peoples to pull within 15-9 at the first break.
“Our defense was good,” UC head coach Eddie Suiter said. “Our defense has been good all year, but we don’t always turn that defense into offense, and I thought we did that in the first half. A lot of that was because Kealie and Raven were able to finish. There have been times when we’ve made defensive plays but then not made the easy one at the other end.”
Getting several people involved offensively helped the Lady Twisters overcome Greenfield’s defense that chased Tory Reedy with one player while the other four played zone.
“We always expect everybody to sag on us,” Suiter said. “We can usually get our high-low game going with our two bigs, but we didn’t have two bigs out there because we were more focused on the defense. We knew they would have four guards out there, so we wanted to have four kids who could contain their dribblers.”
Hudson and Fair took steals in for layups at the other end to take a 19-9 lead by the 4:46 mark of the second quarter, and then Hudson answered Alle Dees’ 3-point shot with one of her own to put UC up by double figures — 23-12 — for good.
Reedy added another triple, and Union City carried a 26-14 lead into intermission.
Ahead 36-22 at the end of three periods, Union City went on an 11-2 binge to open the fourth quarter. Reedy started it with another triple, and Hudson scored three times underneath as the Lady Twisters grabbed a 47-24 lead by the 4:41 mark of the final frame.
UC hit just nine of their 17 free throws but connected on 6-of-14 treys.
Peoples led the Lady ’Jackets (16-10) with 15 points. Greenfield hit 4-of-8 at the line and knocked down four 3-pointers.
Published in The Messenger 2.15.13