By KEVIN WEAKS
South Fulton could not stop Union City from getting its “Fair” share of points.
Amber Fair scored 28 points as the Lady Tornadoes overcame a slow start to pass SF for 44-34 win in their District 14A Tournament semifinal game Thursday night at Trenton.
Both teams will continue their respective postseason runs on Saturday as UC will meet Lake County, the state’s No. 1-ranked team and a 74-39 winner over Bradford in Wednesday’s other semifinal, in the championship game at 7:30, following SF’s consolation game against Bradford at 6. Union City and South Fulton will also play in the Region 7A Tourament next week.
South Fulton led 15-7 at the end of the first period, that eight-point advantage marking the Red Devilettes’ biggest lead of the game.
From that point until midway through the fourth period when UC gained its biggest advantage at 43-27, the Lady Twisters tripled South Fulton’s output with a 36-12 run. SF was held to three points in the second period and one in the third as Union City caught up and then surpassed the Devilettes.
“They got up in our face, and we didn’t handle it,” SF head coach Curt Lee said of Union City’s more aggressive defensive approach that began with the start of the second quarter. “We didn’t want anything to do with them guarding us face-to-face. We quit taking it to the rim, everybody stood around watching the girl dribble the basketball, and we backed down from a challenge.”
From his end, Union City skipper Eddie Suiter pointed out his players’ ability to stay calm under the pressure of an early deficit.
“The thing I was most proud for our kids was the patience they showed,” Suiter said. “It’s easy for any team, when it gets down six, seven, eight points, to push that panic button and go out and try to make plays. For us to be as young as we are, the patience and poise we showed to gut it out was good. We showed a lot of maturity.”
UC’s leader was a sophomore who has already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career as Fair dominated the game from the second quarter on after a relatively quiet three points in the opening period.
Scoring mainly around the basket on drives, set plays and high-low feeds, Fair demonstrated again that addition to her game, which was more geared to 3-point shooting last season and earlier this year.
“What I like is that, since about Christmas, she’s done what we want her to do, and that’s be a presence inside,” Suiter said. “We couldn’t do that last year because she wasn’t comfortable there. But, she’s worked hard to become a more versatile player. Now that she’s added that, she’s not only made herself a better player but us a better team as well. And, she’s a smart kid. I don’t think she gets enough credit for that because she’s big and can dominate a game because of her size. She really studies the game.”
In terms of studying Fair, the Devilettes received a failing grade from their teacher.
“We didn’t guard Fair the whole night,” Lee said. “She did what she wanted to do. We proved that our defense isn’t nearly where it needs to be to compete at this level. They walked to catch the ball, they got into the paint when they wanted to, and they drove it to the rim. You can’t win against a good team when you let them get it to the rim whenever they want.
“To be honest, we could’ve scored 50 and they would have still outscored us because we never stopped them from doing what they wanted to do.”
The Devilettes were very good on offense early, getting eight points from Sydney Easterwood and five from Cross in the opening quarter.
UC was within 7-5 on a Jackie Hudson drive down the middle of the lane, but Cross followed with a nice twisting drive though the paint at the other end as South Fulton closed the period with an 8-2 run.
Easterwood would not score again in the game, and the Devilettes as a team managed just four points total in the middle two quarters. Cross, saddled with foul trouble and sent to the bench in the middle of third, scored just one point in that stretch before finishing with 11 points in the fourth period.
Fair, meanwhile, led the Lady Twisters’ second-quarter comeback. She had her team’s first 11 points, tying it at 18-all on a 3-point play with 1:14 to play in the half, and then Tory Reedy connected twice at the line for UC’s first lead of the night at 20-18.
Union City then spent the third quarter and the first half of the fourth period widening the margin to double figures, eventually reaching 16 at 43-27 with 3:07 remaining.
Cross, who like Fair has over 1,000 points for her career, was the game’s only other player in double figures as she finished with 17.
Published in The Messenger 2.17.12