|Ugly win is better than loss for Twisters |
|Shane Sisco subscribes to the theory that winning ugly beats not winning at all. |
Sisco’s No. 1-ranked Union City boys survived basically on sheer effort when their shooting eyes were terribly out of focus, the Tornadoes still unbeaten after a 73-61 victory over second-ranked Humboldt Tuesday.
The much-anticipated District 14A showdown of highly-touted clubs was never really an artistic body of work as both teams struggled miserably on the offensive end before a packed house at the Tornado gymnasium.
UC (18-0, 10-0) made just 25 percent (9-of-36) from 3-point range, only 10 of its first 30 (33 percent) 2-point shots, and but three of its first 15 attempted free throws.
Still, with gritty work defensively against a more athletic Viking squad, a tireless effort on the boards and a flurry of 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, the Tornadoes completed a season sweep of the Vikings (12-2, 8-2), who ended the locals’ season a year ago with a regional tournament upset.
“The way we shot it didn’t make it too pretty, but there was nothing wrong with our effort,” Sisco said after the contest. “When you’re not making shots, you’ve got to be able to defend and rebound the basketball, and we did those things tonight. Sometimes, this is the way you have to win games.”
Though neither ever found a semblance of offensive rhythm, the Twisters and H’boldt went at each other tooth-and-nail all night. Neither took more than a six-point lead until UC — clinging to a 50-46 advantage — surged with one of its patented runs in the early stages of the fourth quarter to pull away.
Nik Brooks started the rally with a nice driving bucket and both MJ Brown and Andre Coby drained 3-pointers after Coby scored off a fine feed from Pat Polk as a result of one of three Tornado forced-turnovers during the flurry.
Up 60-46 then with 3:33 to play, Union City finally discovered its shooting touch from the foul line down the stretch, hitting 9-of-10 over the last 85 seconds to secure the victory. Lavan Mosley knocked down four of those charities in succession after the Twisters had made 7-of-9 from the field in the final frame.
“We’ve had a couple of different stretches now where we haven’t shot the ball well,” Sisco continued. “The thing is, we’ve continued to play the way and the style we have to play and keep shooting the ball and ultimately, we have one of those runs where we score eight or 10 in a row.
“That happened tonight and, because we’d kept it close with our defense and rebounding, that little stretch allowed us to put some distance between ourselves and them. Then we finally made some free throws there late.”
UC trailed 25-21 three minutes before halftime, but tallied the final nine points before intermission to go up 30-25 at the break. Brown bottomed back-to-back trifectas and Polk tallied from in close in the final seconds to highlight the run.
Five Tornado players finished in double figures scoring-wise, led by Brown’s 17. Mosley pitched in 12, Brooks and Polk ended up with 11 apiece and Coby was credited with 10 markers.
Brooks was a warrior on the glass for the victors, helping UC to a 44-37 rebounding advantage against the much-bigger Vikes, while Polk did a defensive number on Cordero Wade, holding him to five points after he’d hit for 23 in the teams’ earlier meeting.
Humboldt 49, UC 40 (G)
Unlike their male counterparts, the Lady Tornadoes could not overcome a cold-shooting performance and fell to 1-9 in district play with their second loss of the season to the Humboldt girls.
UC made just 15 field goals total for the game and hit but 8-of-15 from the charity stripe.
“It was by far the worst shooting night we’ve had all season,” Lady Twister head coach Jeff Chandler said. “I thought we really clamped down on them in the second and third quarters with good defense but, bottom line was, we just couldn’t make a shot.”
Doreal Strayhorn scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the first period to help keep the locals close, but the two teams combined for just nine total points in a woeful second-quarter offensive exhibition.
Despite its point-making offensive shortcomings, Union City was still within a deuce at 30-28 entering the stretch run after freshman Huff scored late, but a run of 11 straight Viking markers midway through the final frame was too much for the Lady Tornadoes to overcome.
“The thing that was most troubling to me is that we didn’t do any of the things we’d worked on two days in practice,” Chandler added. “We didn’t execute our game plan, and there’s really no excuse for that.”
Huff joined teammate Strayhorn in double figures for the locals with 12 points.
The Union City teams play at Dresden on Friday.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.