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UC runs Ponies roughshod during ride on easy 7A trail

UC runs Ponies roughshod during ride on easy 7A trail
UC runs Ponies roughshod during ride on easy 7A trail

Union City’s Tyler Steward takes a shot during the Twisters’ win on Friday night.
Union City’s tournament path took a turn down easy street against Huntingdon.
The seventh-ranked Golden Tornadoes sped to a double-digit lead with just five minutes gone and ended up on cruise control in a 70-43 rout of the Mustangs Friday in the Region 7-1A quarterfinals.
The runaway victory continued UC’s postseason journey to tonight’s regional semifinals, where the road figures to get considerably tougher with a fourth matchup this season vs. No. 9 Lake County.
The Twisters (21-11) and LC (22-11) play at Trenton Peabody High School in the second of two Final 4 games (7:30) with the winners to not only earn a berth in Thursday’s finals, but a spot in the substate — or sectionals — March 8.
Second-ranked Humboldt (22-6) and Big Sandy (17-10) will meet in the first of tonight’s semifinal games.
Union City, which has beaten Lake County twice this season, encountered no bumps in their tourney road while racing past Huntingdon (14-10).
Josh Battee sank a pair of 3-pointers in the first 21⁄2 minutes and had 11 first-quarter points as the Tornadoes looked little like the team that had struggled miserably on the offensive end while dropping the District 14A championship game to Humboldt four nights earlier.
UC, which made just 31 percent of its attempts Monday vs. the Vikings, shot 63.6 percent (21-of-33) from 2-point range and 50 percent overall (27-of-54) vs. a sputtering Mustang squad that had two more turnovers in the first quarter than they had points.
“It’s amazing at the difference when you make shots,” Twister head coach Shane Sisco said after leading his program to at least the regional semis for the fifth straight year. “Josh (Battee) hitting the back-to-back threes there early obviously gave both him and the rest of our team a lot of confidence offensively. That was really critical after the way we shot it against Humboldt.
“For whatever reason, we seem to do right opposite as most teams — we feed off our offense, rather than our defense. After we made a couple of shots early, we really got after them defensively, too.”
After Battee converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and canned a 10-footer at the end of the first period, a pair of Peyton Mosley free throws a minute into the second quarter made it 25-5. UC went on to lead by as many as 23 before halftime, and Battee had actually outscored the visitors by himself — 16-15 — as the Twisters carried a 36-15 lead at the intermission.
A more scrappy Mustang bunch opened the second half with an 11-4 flurry, getting several loose balls while cutting into Union City’s big cushion. Bam Melton’s unconventional 4-point play just before the third-stanza buzzer got Huntingdon as close as it would get the rest of the way, 46-34, heading into the stretch run.
The Tornadoes squelched any thought of a further comeback, though, opening the fourth period with a run of nine unanswered markers. Antonio Cox drained a 3 and Tyler Steward scored on a drive to cap the run and stretch the lead to 55-34.
The last of Battee’s four 3-pointers with 3:10 to go made it 62-38 and prompted both coaches to unload their respective benches.
“Seeing somebody different other than the teams from our district was a little refreshing for us and gave us the chance to get the kids’ attention in our preparation,” Sisco added.
“We’ll be in a totally different situation Monday, though, against Lake County..”
Battee’s 23 points were a game high, while Steward add 16 and Cox pitched in 10.

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