|UCMS boys wearing richest crown
|Posted: Monday, February 14, 2011 5:06 pm
MEMPHIS — In dentistry terms, the Union City Middle School boys capped a perfect 21-0 season with a crown.
Union City’s Donte Simpson drives in during Saturday’s win the finals of the TMSAA West Sectional Tournament.
The Twisters “drilled” nine 3-point baskets en route to a 65-60 triumph over Fayette-East and the school’s first-ever TMSAA Small School West Sectional championship on Saturday at Bellevue.
Marcus Deberry was responsible for four trifectas while Joe Wiggins hit a trio of treys.
James Mays and Jalen Ware, a reserve who logged crucial minutes in the second half, each drained one 3.
“Deberry got hot and Wiggins hit three 3’s to get us through a couple tough stretches and keep ahead,” said UCMS boys’ coach Ronald Ward after his team defeated the Bulldogs, who lost 50-46 to the locals on Feb. 1 in the Area 4 Tournament title game, for the second time in 14 days. “I thought we played great defensively. We kept their big guy (Cortavious Miller) in check for most of the game.
“We gave up a few more 3’s than we did the first time we played them, but that was part of the plan to stop their inside game.”
With the victory, Union City finishes the 2010 campaign with a 21-0 worksheet. Originally, UC and the rest of the West Tennessee Athletic Conference schools were to finish the league tournament after the West Sectional.
Ward told that his squad — with the blessing of UCMS principal/athletic director Dan Boykin — would not take part in the event if it is made up. It would be anti-climatic to compete for the conference crown after the Twisters have claimed the highest prize available to a middle school team since there is not a state tournament at the junior high level.
“I told the eighth-graders before the game to lay it all on the line because this was their last junior high game,” Ward said. “I can’t say enough about how proud I am about the way the four eighth-graders (Deberry, James Mays, Donte Simpson and Malik Stockdale) I started played.
“They gave everything they had.”
Simpson gave a particularly heroic effort in the final minute.
His stellar clutch play began with 46 seconds left with an old-fashioned 3-point play that put UC back ahead after the Bulldogs (18-7) had taken a one-point lead just moments earlier.
Then, Simpson stole the basketball near midcourt to deny Fayette-East’s an opportunity to knot the game up on its next trip down the floor.
After Union City took a timeout with about 30 seconds remaining, the Twisters burned off 19 ticks before Simpson was fouled.
The UC eighth-grader bottomed one of his two charity tosses to put the locals up by a 63-60 count. With under 10 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs rushed down the floor and missed a 3 that could have tied the game.
Union City came away with the rebound and Mays, who was fouled, hit both of his charity tosses to close the book on the Twisters’ storybook campaign.
UC opened Saturday’s game with a 7-0 run, forcing Fayette-East to play the locals’ tempo in the process.
However, the Bulldogs battled back and took the lead a few seconds into the second quarter.
Fayette-East would hold the advantage until early in the third quarter when Mays busted a trey to put UC ahead.
From that point, Union City went on to build a large cushion — holding a nine-point lead at one juncture in the third period.
In the fourth frame, the Twisters were up by eight tallies — 57-49 — with 3:50 left in the game after a trifecta from Deberry, the tournament’s MVP.
But the Bulldogs didn’t roll over and play dead. Instead, they mounted a comeback and eventually took the lead with 1:50 remaining.
In the end, though, UC’s balance, pesky defense and ability to hit shots from anywhere on the floor proved to be the deciding factor.
Mardarrius McNeil poured in a game-high 24 points for Fayette East, while 6-foot-3 Cortavius Miller offered 10 and T’varsky White had 10.
The Twisters, who also had Simpson and Stockdale on the All-Tournament team, advanced to Saturday’s finale with a 53-48 triumph over Memphis entry Lester in the semifinals.
Eighth-graders Thomas Beard, Ricky Henry, Jamie Pirtle and Zack Williamson also suited up for the last time during Union City’s triumph.
UC 53, Lester 48
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
The Lions, who boasted of three players that stood 6-foot-2 or taller, had no answer for the sound fundamentals of Union City or the balanced scoring of the locals.
UC utilized just five players against Lester (26-3). However, each of those team members accounted for at least seven points.
Mays topped the Twister scoring summary with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Stockdale and Deberry both also hit in double digits with 12 and 11 tallies, respectively.
Simpson was a point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 boards, while Wiggins wasn’t too shabby either with seven markers and six steals.
The Twisters led 30-26 at halftime, but Lester pulled to within a deuce early in the third quarter.
From that point, UC embarked on an 8-0 run that assisted in keeping the Lions at bay for the rest of the game.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.