By KEVIN WEAKS
Union City was very good in one half and good enough in the other.
Two good halves added up to a pair of confidence-building wins as the Golden Tornadoes close out the regular season and head into the postseason.
UC claimed a pair of 13-point wins over Dresden Thursday night at home, winning 52-39 in the girls’ game and 57-44 in the boys’ nightcap.
Playing inspired and impressive basketball for the first half and into the second half of each game, both Twister teams built up big leads and then made both hold up despite a let-up that allowed Dresden make a run.
The Lady Tornadoes saw a 19-point lead drop to just nine in the fourth quarter, while Union City’s boys pulled out to a 27-point lead early in the fourth and then watched Dresden trim 14 points off that difference despite not hitting a field goal in the fourth period.
It was how both UC teams built up those big leads, however, that made an impression on their respective coaches.
“We tell the kids that if you play hard, you can make up for mistakes,” Lady Twister head man Eddie Suiter said. “We didn’t shoot free throws well early — we did late — which didn’t allow us to extend the lead. We turned it over too much, but the effort allowed us to make those mistakes.”
Union City was nearly perfect in the first quarter, taking a 17-2 lead with aggressive play on the defensive end that fed the offensive side.
UC’s Amber Fair reached a personal milestone in that first period, her 3-pointer at 2:38 putting her over the 1,000-point mark in her career.
“The best thing is that, in the last three weeks, the quality of her shots has gone up exponentially,” Suiter said. “Earlier in the year, she was scoring a lot of points but taking a lot of bad shots. Now, she’s still maintaining her average and doing it a lot more efficiently, which makes us a better team.”
The Twister boys, meanwhile, had a quick start of their own with a 22-6 lead at the end of the first period. UC’s solid play carried four minutes into the third period.
“I was pleased with the way we were playing up to that point,” Tornado head coach Shane Sisco said. “We just didn’t close it out. If we can play the way we did the first 20 minutes, we have a chance to be pretty good. We can’t let the last 12 minutes sour the outcome. We played a stretch there as well as we possibly could.”
Both Union City teams are seeded second in the upcoming District 14A Tournament and will host their first round games. The girls (15-9) will bring in Halls on Monday, and the boys (18-8) will host South Fulton on Tuesday, both games starting at 6:30 p.m. The tournament will then move to Trenton Peabody for the semifinals and finals.
UC 52, Dresden 39 (G)
Fair scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first half as Union City sprinted to a big lead, and then Tory Reedy hit all eight of her free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
Fair scored UC’s first eight points, Jackie Hudson put up the next three, Anna Moore knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner and Fair closed out the first period assault with a 3-point play.
Despite leading by as many as 18 at 22-4 and carrying a 26-9 gap into the half, UC was hurt somewhat by just 6-of-11 shooting at the line.
UC kept attacking in the third and led by 21 at 34-13 with 4:55 left. Union City took a 37-22 advantage into the fourth and pushed that to 43-24 with 3:51 to play before Dresden began slicing into the margin, twice getting within nine.
Stopping short of saying Thursday’s game proves his team is tournament ready, Suiter did like his players’ attitude.
“I don’t know about a carry-over,” he said. “We’ll find that out next week. But, the thing I liked about our kids is that they played like it was a big game. Our kids wanted to be on the floor. We’re always out there giving effort, but tonight they were excited to be out there in this kind of game.”
UC 57, Dresden 44 (B)
Peyton Mosley’s athletic moves on the low post helped Union City put up 22 points in the first quarter, while the No. 9-ranked Lions were held to just six free throws.
Mosley scored nine points, converting a 3-point play, and Lewis brothers Khiry and Tre scored on drives to the basket as UC’s quickness won out on nearly every possession.
Despite six points each from Joseph Sipes and Austin Daniel, Dresden fell farther behind in the second, down as much as 22 at 40-18.
Union City stretched its lead to 49-22 midway through third, but a change in personnel for the Twisters and four baskets from Tyler McPeak started to reverse the game’s course.
“We had them put away, but it’s my fault we substituted,” Sisco said. “The group we substituted with was not ready to play. We turned it over four times in a row, and they converted. Give them credit. We subbed but it didn’t work out.”
The Twisters led 49-35 at the end of the quarter, but Dresden’s rally was done in by another drought from the field. The Lions were 9-of-12 at the line in the fourth quarter but did not hit a field goal.
Publlished in The Messenger 2.10.12