Quizzed UC girls say yes to title tilt

Quizzed UC girls say yes to title tilt
Quizzed UC girls say yes to title tilt

Union City’s Kierra Davis drives to the bucket during Thursday’s win over Greenfield.
TRENTON — Union City girls’ coach Eddie Suiter was frank in his conversation with his team prior to Thursday’s District 14A Tournament semifinal game against Greenfield.
“I told the girls before they even got on the bus that they didn’t have to win to keep playing,” Suiter said. “They could lose and still play at least two more games, but I did ask them two questions.
“I asked ‘do you want to play for the district championship’ and ‘do you want to host a regional tournament game.’”
Suiter got his answer — a resounding ‘yes’ on both accounts — from the Lady Twisters, who came from behind to best G’field 37-32 on Thursday.
The triumph puts Union City (15-12) in the 14A title game against No. 1-ranked Lake County on Saturday evening at 7:30. It is UC’s third appearance in the league’s title tilt in the last six seasons and since 1950.
The Lady Twisters won the 14A crown in 2006-07. Prior to that win, Union City had last won the crown in 1948-49.
Additionally, Thursday’s victory also locks UC in as a host for a quarterfinal game in the upcoming Region 7A Tournament.
“I’m really excited for the girls to host a regional game,” Suiter said while noting that Union City’s regional home game will be the first at this juncture of the postseason during his coaching career. “It’s a big deal to play in your gym in front of your fans in a win-or-go home game and I hope we can have a lot of support.
“I also hope our fans will turn out for the district title game on Saturday.”
At halftime, it looked as if the Lady Twister faithful might be coming to Saturday’s 14A consolation game instead.
Greenfield (18-8) closed the second quarter on an 11-0 run to lead 17-10 at intermission.
During the first half, Union City struggled mightily to find any semblance of offense. The Lady Twisters missed at least a half-dozen second-chance opportunities from close range and had numerous lay-ups and easy baskets that clanged off either the irons or backboard.
However, in a preview of things to come, the UC defense kept the locals within a manageable margin.
“The defense pulled us through tonight,” Suiter said. “It didn’t show up on paper because we weren’t scoring, but I thought our effort in the first half was good. If our defense would have fallen short in the first half, I think they would have been up by 15 or 20 points.”
Greenfield opened the third quarter with a pair of quick buckets as Shameilla McMullen drove to the rim on back-to-back possessions to put the Weakley Countians up by a 21-10 count with 6:44 left in the period.
That was all that the Lady Yellowjackets would get offensively for quite some time.
The Lady Twister defense kept Greenfield out of the lane for essentially the rest of the game and held the No. 2-seeded squad to zero field goals — and just a trio of free throws — for the next 14 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Union City strung together an 11-0 scoring run, which was capped with the tying of the game at 21-all with 3:44 left in contest.
Seniors Shenisha Huff and Kierra Davis both dialed long distance during the Lady Twister spurt, while Jackie Hudson had a bucket and two free throws.
UC senior Shakeyvia Gauldin bottomed her lone tally of the night — a charity toss — during the run.
With the game tied, Greenfield scored for the first time in over nine minutes as Emily Randolph hit a pair of free throws with 3:35 remaining.
Less than a minute later, though, Hudson — who led Union City with 12 points — sank two charity tosses with 2:49 remaining to put the Lady Twisters up by a 24-23 score and for good.
Hudson followed her freebies with a bucket to give UC some breathing room and Kierra Davis sank four straight charity tosses to stretch the locals’ lead to seven points (30-23) with just over a minute left.
Greenfield cut the deficit to four points on three occasions in the last 60 seconds, but got no closer.
“We had some huge free throws in the last minute or two,” Suiter said. “Hudson is at around 40 percent from the line this year, but she hit a pair of huge free throws in the fourth quarter.”
All totaled, Union City, which was without regular Brittany Parker (flu), was 14-for-18 from the charity stripe during the game’s final four minutes.
Davis alone hit eight free throws in the fourth quarter. All 11 of her markers came in the final frame.
Greenfield, who plays Bradford on Saturday at 6 in the 14A consolation game, had Jordan Galey as its leading scorer with 12 points. Nine of Galey’s markers came before intermission.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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