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Lady Tornadoes make history but coach has eye on loftier goals

Lady Tornadoes make history but coach has eye on loftier goals
Lady Tornadoes make history but coach has eye on loftier goals | Lady Tornadoes make history but coach has eye on loftier goals
Messenger Sports
Happy, but not satisfied.
Eddie Suiter sees his Lady Tornadoes’ historic win Saturday night in the Region 7A Tournament semifinals at Trenton in that perspective.
“I told the kids before the game that we weren’t here to make history,” he said following Union City’s 48-31 win over Dresden that secured the program its first-ever sectional round berth. “We can talk about history and all that stuff later on. Right now, we’re talking about present and future. We just want to win basketball games. We want to keep winning games. We just want to keep our focus on who our next opponent is. Right now, that’s Lake County, and then we’ll look at who’s next after that.
“I’m not trying to pass it off, but I’m not worried about history right now.”
Lake County, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, is up next for the Lady Twisters in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Trenton.
“We’re happy about that,” Suiter said. “I guess we’re happy to be playing Lake County because we’re both in the region championship. If we could play Lake County two more times, I think it would be great because I think they’re on a mission, and I feel we are, too.”
The teams have met three times already, including the District 14A title game a week ago, with the Lady Falcons winning all three.
If a fifth matchup is, indeed, in the future, it would be in the Class A State Championship game March 10 in Murfreesboro.
Getting this far took some perseverance by the Lady Tornadoes, who fought off some offensive struggles in the first half to lead 16-13 at halftime and then rode the scoring outburst of Amber Fair through the second half.
Fair finished with a game-high 29 points, breaking the game open with 15 of her team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter.
“There was no flow,” Suiter said of the game’s first 16 minutes. “Neither team got in much of a flow in the first half. We had no flow offensively in the first half, and we didn’t do ourselves any favors at the free throw line.
“But, both teams gutted it out and got to the second half.”
Union City was barely better than Dresden in the first half, its 16 points coming on five field goals, including a triple by Fair to open the game, and 5-of-11 free throw shooting.
The Lions, meanwhile, had twice as many fouls (eight) as it did made field goals (four) and hit just four times at the line in 12 attempts.
Dresden held just one lead — for all of 21 seconds — and was tied three times.
The Lady Lions trailed 8-6 after one period but took their only lead on a 3-pointer by Carrie Hatchel at 7:43 of the second period. UC was back ahead at 7:22, however, on a stickback by Fair.
After a Dresden free throw evened the game at 10-all, UC freshman Kealie Reaves took a steal the other way for a layup at 6:09 to play in the second period for a 12-10 lead, giving the Lady Twisters the advantage for good.
The second half was mostly a clinic in scoring by Fair, who had seven points in the third period and was then virtually unstoppable in the fourth.
Fair was smooth and calm on a 15-footer from the left baseline to put UC up 32-24 at 6:39 of the fourth, and then she broke the game open with a two-footer, a steal and layup, and a shot from the right block for a 39-27 lead at 1:59.
“She’s a gamer,” Suiter said. “She’s come up big a few times this year when the offense has stalled, and it was stalled in the first half.
“She’s changed her game, and she’s changed our team since Christmas. She’s made us a better team.”
While Union City put the game away in the fourth, the Lady Tornadoes had to fight off Dresden in the third.
After opening the second half with nine straight points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Reedy, for a 25-13 lead, UC saw the game quickly tighten up as Amy McAlpin scored six of her eight points in a little less than three minutes.
The play that perhaps did more than any other to extend Union City’s season came during that Lion comeback, however.
After Fair was whistled for a technical foul — the second highly questionable technical of the game following one on Dresden’s Kristin Childress in the first quarter — Jones hit a pair of free throws to make it 25-20 at 2:31.
But, on the ensuing possession, UC’s Anna Moore tapped the ball away for a steal and went in to score.
The margin was five points on three more occasions but never closer, and Fair led a 16-4 run over the game’s final 6:02.
UC finished hitting 14-of-27 at the line, 8-of-14 in the fourth quarter.
Amber Fair 29, Tory Reedy 13, Moore 2, Reeves 2, Bynum 2.
Jones 9, McAlpin 8, Hatchel 5, Phillips 4, Glisson 4, Childress 1.
UC    8    8    14    18    —    48
D    6    7    11    7    —    31
Records: UC 19-10; Dresden 22-7.
Next Games: UC plays Lake County 7 p.m. Tuesday in the championship game. Dresden’s season ends.
Published in The Messenger 2.27.12