|Still-perfect Tornadoes prove they can play with big boys |
|NASHVILLE — It may or may not have been unfinished business from last year but, whatever the case, the Union City boys returned to Lipscomb University and claimed the Battle for the State championship at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. |
The Golden Tornadoes rolled to the championship of the tournament by running past Livingston Academy 72-61 Saturday afternoon to move their record to 13-0 overall after three victories in their visit to Music City.
UC had come up short in last year’s appearance, losing a tough semifinal decision to Brentwood Academy and finishing third. This season, the only Class A team in the field returned home with the first place trophy.
“I was really pleased our three days up here, how we have defended and I think our defense is improving,” Sisco said. “We still have some things we have got to do. I thought they exposed us a little bit today in the post. The reason being, we were so concerned about their perimeter play.”
Union City started out fast against one of the top teams from the state’s Upper Cumberland area, building a 24-13 lead after one period and holding a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The Twister defense also did an especially good job on Livingston star scorer Chase Dunn. He had scored 62 points in the first two games but was limited to 16 in the title tilt, several coming very late in the game.
“I thought one of the keys in the basketball game was to make sure we found him (Dunn),” Sisco said. “Our kids we had on him, Nik Brooks, Pat Polk and Lavan Mosley, all did a good job of finding him and were aware of where he was on the floor.”
Another aspect of the victory was the Golden Tornadoes’ rebounding effort. Again outsized, UC held a 37-25 advantage on the boards, 17 coming on the offensive end.
“I was pleased on how well we rebounded the ball,” Sisco said. “Our rebounding here the first two days was a little suspect. It wasn’t anything real bad or real glaring. I was really pleased with our kids rebounding the ball.”
The Twister led 38-22 at halftime, despite the fact that tournament most valuable player MJ Brown was just 1-of-9 from the field. Brown came back in the final half to connect on all five of his field goal attempts and finish with a team-high 18 points.
Brown was joined on the all-tourney team by teammates Polk and Brooks.
UC had four players in all in double figures in the championship game as Mosley scored 13 off the bench while Andre Coby tallied 12 and Ryan Simpson 11. Coby also yanked down a team-high 11 rebounds
Union City opened as much as a 20-point lead twice in the third period, the last time coming after a Brooks layup to make the score 54-34 with 2:38 left. The Golden Tornadoes slowed things in the final period and the Wildcats were able to cut into the final margin.
UCHS shot 44 percent (27-of-61) from the floor and 36 percent (11-of-31) from 3-point range.
The Wildcats, a team expected to be in the hunt to the Class AA State Tournament, shot 50 percent from the floor but made just two trips to the free throw line, making one.
Clint West and Adam Wilson each scored 10 to join Dunn in double digits for Livingston (10-3).
“Anytime you can play the caliber of teams we played up here this week, it only makes you better,” Sisco said. “We will take this and improve as we move on (with the season).”
UCHS 76 Sycamore 66
UC advanced to the championship game with the 10-point victory over host Sycamore Friday night.
The Golden Tornadoes made 16 3-pointers — seven of those on their first 11 possessions in the third quarter when they scored 31 points to expand a 34-28 halftime lead to a 17-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
Brooks made five of his six treys in the first half and finished with 18 points, while Simpson nailed four trifectas after the intermission and ended with 14 markers.
The ever-steady Brown scattered five 3-pointers over the contest and led UC with 24 points and seven assists. Polk yanked down 12 rebounds.
The Tornadoes did lose the services of starter Tony Wilkins, who left with a knee injury after just three minutes. Wilkins will be further evaluated this week.
Class AA Sycamore, which is from the Pleasant View Community near Ashland City, fell to 10-3 with the loss.