Short-handed SF rallies vs. UC gals

Short-handed SF rallies vs. UC gals
Short-handed SF rallies vs. UC gals

Union City’s Kierra Davis looks for an exit as South Fulton’s Taleeah Cross defends.
Making do without their second-leading scorer was no big deal for a South Fulton girls’ team that is used to improvising.
Their already-thin roster reduced to just seven players due to the absence of Laken Haley — out with strep throat — the Devilettes still found a way to avenge an earlier loss and rally past Union City 52-45 Tuesday night.
SF outscored the Lady Tornadoes 13-1 in the final four minutes and won despite making just three second-half field goals.
The Red Devil girls did sink 19-of-26 free throws over the final two periods, with Cori Jo Edmison hitting four straight from the line in the final 50 seconds to break a 44-all tie. Taleeah Cross then bottomed two more as part of her own 6-for-6 effort at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
Union City did leave the Big Red hardwood with a split, however, beating the South Fulton boys for the 16th straight time dating back to the 2001-02 campaign, 54-37.
The nightcap was essentially over at the end of the first quarter as the Twisters overwhelmed the host Devils with what UC head coach Shane Sisco called “our best defensive effort in two years.”
The Tornadoes rattled SF into multiple turnovers and hurried missed shots from all angles and got a pair of 3-pointers from Tyler Steward and another trey from Antonio Cox to race to a commanding 21-5 lead after the first eight minutes.
Both teams continue District 14A play Friday night with road games, Union City at Trenton and South Fulton at Bradford.
So. Fulton 52, UC 45 (G)
The Devilettes (11-7, 5-4), who led by as many as eight points in the first half, found themselves behind 44-39 heading down the stretch.
Union City’s Amber Fair, the game’s top scorer with 26 markers and her team’s lone semblance of offense for much of the contest, had put the Purple and Gold up at the 6:35 mark with a short jumper after giving the Lady Twisters their first lead since the end of the opening period with a 3-pointer, 30 seconds earlier.
SF took advantage of a handful of rushed possessions and attempts at the basket during crunch time by the visitors, though, and ultimately drew even at 44-all when Ka-Lon Martin twice made 1-of-2 free throws — the second time with 1:23 showing.
Edmison then calmly stepped to the line and drained two free throws on consecutive possessions first after a Union City miss, then a Tornado turnover. Cross gave the Devilettes some insurance by doing the same after another UC misfire and Savannah Larson’s layup at the buzzer capped the deciding run and revenge for an earlier 11-point loss in the first meeting between the two clubs.
“It wasn’t necessarily a great win, but it was a good one because we fought through not having Laken (Haley) and the fatigue of having an even shorter bench than usual,” South Fulton head coach Curt Lee said afterward. “The thing that I was most proud of was that we did it with defense and rebounding — two of the things I’ve harped on all season.”
Cross, the Lady Devils’ top scorer this season, carried an even bigger offensive burden than usual, finishing with 23 points to top the victors. Martin was a point shy of double digits.
On the other bench, UC skipper Eddie Suiter bemoaned his team’s blown chances at a season sweep of its Obion County neighbor.
“We were careless and wasted a lot of possessions when we had the lead there in the fourth quarter,” insisted the Lady Twister boss, whose team nonetheless remained in second place in the league standings with a mark of 6-3 while falling to 10-9 overall.
“I thought we were really soft at times with the ball in our hands and South Fulton either knocked it out or deflected passes, and we missed a couple of chances at the free throw line, too, that would’ve helped us.”
While SF made over 70 percent (20-of-28) in all, Union City hit just 10-of-24 (41.6 percent) from the stripe.
UC 54, So. Fulton 37 (B)
The Tornadoes (10-13, 7-2) continued their mastery over SF in the last decade and moved into a tie for second-place in the 14A standings with Lake County, which lost Tuesday to league-leading and second-ranked Humboldt.
Union City’s nose-to-nose fullcourt defensive pressure and superior backcourt quickness was tell-tale from the outset, holding the Redmen without a field goal for nearly half the opening frame before Kendall Greer finally sank a deuce.
The Twisters, though, fed off their press and scored nine unanswered markers during one stretch to lead 15-3 before the game was six minutes old. Back-to-back buckets inside by Russ Smith, who was one of three double-digit scorers for the winners, made it 19-5 before Cox’s driving layup ended an opening flurry that saw the UC backcourt (Steward and Cox) combine for 15 points to match South Fulton’s total for the entire half.
It was 31-15 at the intermission with the lead as large as 23 at one time in the second half and never smaller than the final margin. Both coaches emptied their respective benches in the waning minutes.
“We didn’t allow any penetration or second chances and we contested every shot,” Sisco added, while continuing to laud his club’s defense. “Of course, it helps, too, when you make some shots and we did there in the first quarter with both Tyler and Antonio.
“Scoring 21 points in the first quarter and getting off to a 15-3 start really set the tone.”
Steward ended up with a game-high 19 points while Cox added 11 to give Union City three double-digit scorers.
First-year South Fulton coach Wes Miller was understandably disappointed in his troops’ play.
“We came out flat and they took us out of everything we wanted to do with their defense,” he said. “When they took away our first option on offense, we panicked. We missed shots from everywhere, and that’s something we’ve been doing a lot of the last few games.”
Jordan Davis, the Devils’ top scorer on the season, was held without a point in the first half before finishing with a team-high nine.
SF (8-11, 2-7), lost its fourth straight game and was held to a season-low point output.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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