Union City passes stern tests from SF
Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 7:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
South Fulton gave Union City’s two state-ranked entries stern pre-tournament tests Thursday night.
Both Tornado teams passed.
The No. 1-ranked UC girls relied on their trademark defense to pull away from the Devilettes late for a 46-33 triumph, while the No. 5 Twister boys continued their decade-long mastery of the Red Devils, winning for the 22nd straight time in the series 72-61.
The two Tornado entries — each regular season champions of District 14A — certainly appear tourney-ready, the girls (23-3) winners of 12 straight after a perfect 14-game run through the league, and the boys (18-7) after having triumphed in 10 of their last 12 outings and finishing 13-1 in the district.
They each closed out the regular season with wins vs. quality foes Thursday as the South Fulton girls (19-6) had won 12 of their previous 13 games and will be seeded second in the upcoming 14A event, while the Redmen (16-10) had won six in a row before seeing their frustrations continue vs. the Purple and Gold.
The district tournaments will begin next week (see related brackets) with SFHS hosting the girls’ semifinals and championship games, while the last two rounds of the boys’ tourney will be held at Trenton Peabody. First round games will be played on the homecourt of the higher seeded teams on Monday and Tuesday.
Union City spotted the Devilettes the first six points of Thursday’s opener before running off 13 unanswered markers and ultimately holding South Fulton to its second-lowest point total of the season. SF’s scored just 29 points in an earlier loss to the Lady Tornadoes.
Tory Reedy scored 17 points and Tamara Nettles hit for six of her 10 in the final two minutes for the victors after the Big Red had gotten to within 37-31 in the fourth quarter.
In the nightcap, UC took the Devils’ best shot in the first half when South Fulton missed just seven shots total and hit six 3-pointers — but still trailed 38-37 at the intermission.
The foul-plagued Redmen cooled off considerably in the second half and Union City made the majority of the “hustle” plays during a stretch in which it outscored the visitors 32-13 to pull away to a commanding 70-50 lead with just over three minutes to play.
Marcus DeBerry dropped in a game-high 24 points for UC, with Donte Simpson adding 19 and Jamie Hyde 10.
UC 46, SF 33 (G)
Asked afterward if he thought a loss might ultimately help his team in the big picture, Union City head coach Eddie Suiter said — “Not.”
“I’ve had some people ask me that, but I really don’t think we ‘need’ a loss. I think we’ve had two really good tests in a row now against the teams that are right behind us in the standings, and I like the way we took care of business and handled the challenges.
“South Fulton has a really good basketball team, and it got a little ugly at times because they defended us just like we defended them.”
The Lady Twisters found themselves in a quick hole when Ka-lon Martin scored twice to help SF get out to a 6-0 lead.
Undaunted, Union City answered with the aforementioned spurt of its own that put them in front for good.
Jackie Hudson’s bucket halfway through the opening frame gave the Twister girls a 7-6 advantage before she then capped the 13-point run with a bucket following deuces by Raven Fair and TauiNeiscia Skinner.
Reedy bottomed all three of her triples in the second period, twice putting UC up by a dozen. South Fulton, meanwhile, didn’t make its first field goal until Laken Haley connected with 1:25 left in the half that ended with the home team up 26-16.
Martin helped the Devilettes halve that difference early in the third frame before a 2-pointer by Reedy and Fair’s trifecta again stretched the difference to double digits.
Taleeah Cross’s old-fashioned 3-point play, a bucket by Sydney Easterwood and a foul shot by Haley got SF within 37-31 — though that margin would’ve been smaller if not for three missed free throws.
But, Nettles scored on three possessions over a 50-second span after the Lady Devils had again misfired twice from the line to seal Union City’s win.
“They were double- and triple-teaming Jackie (Hudson), which meant Tamara had single coverage. And she wanted the ball,” Suiter added.
Cross led South Fulton with 13 points while Martin finished with nine.
UC 72, SF 61 (B)
After South Fulton seemingly could not miss in the first half, the regularly couldn’t make those same shots after the break against the Tornadoes’ zone defense.
“They made 6-of-8 3-pointers in the first half, and I told our kids at the half we’d taken an awfully-good shot from them,” UC head coach Shane Sisco said. “We knew they had some kids who could shoot, but we hadn’t discussed the (Josh) Hollowell kid a lot and he hit three of those and was the big difference in the second quarter.
“We went to the zone really to just slow them down some. We were able to get good wing coverage from Khiry (Lewis) and Donte (Simpson), and we also did a great job on the boards on both ends. The other big thing is that I thought we got the majority of the 50/50 balls and made a ton of hustle plays. We didn’t do that in the first half. It was a quality effort by our kids against a team that I think has been playing as well as anybody the last few weeks.”
The two clubs combined for 11 first-half 3-pointers with the lead often changing hands on each made shot. Hollowell’s dead-eye shooting and a rim-rattling dunk by Tevaris James off a pretty T.J. Ingram feed were the highlights for South Fulton, while DeBerry had 15 of his points for the Tornadoes during that time.
Hyde’s 3-point play in the latter stages of the third quarter helped UC gain some separation against a suddenly-cold and turnover-prone Devil team and DeBerry’s longball — the lone triple of the second half by either team — widened the game to double digits at 54-43.
A 14-3 flurry to begin the fourth quarter saw the Tornadoes gain increasing confidence while SF gradually recognized the inevitable of another loss to its Obion County brethren. Simpson and LaMonte Dickerson both scored twice during that span for the victors.
The Red Devils were outscored at the charity stripe 18-7, called for 22 fouls to Union City’s 12, and were whistled for three technical fouls.
And SF head coach Wes Miller said his team let the officiating become a factor in their performance.
“It was the first time after six games that my kids didn’t allow me to coach them because I was worried instead if they were going to say something to an official or taunt the crowd,” said the Red Devil coach, who was tagged with the last of those technicals in the final minutes. “We might’ve gotten taken out of the game a little in the third quarter with a few iffy calls, but you’ve got to play through that.
“I told them they have to quit worrying about the names on the front of the jerseys and all the other stuff and just play the game.”
James led SF with 13 points, while Harrison Hawks pitched in 10 and Hollowell added nine.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.8.13