By KEVIN WEAKS
Union City’s boys did just enough to survive. It will take a lot more to advance.
A 9-0 run in the first quarter and a Tre Lewis free throw with 5.2 seconds remaining in the game made all the difference for the Golden Tornadoes, who edged Dresden 47-46 in the quarterfinals of the Region 7A Tournament Friday night at Dresden.
Union City (20-10) now advances to the semifinal round, one win away from a sectional berth, and will play defending state champion Lake County 7:30 tonight at Trenton.
“We did just enough to gut it out,” UC head coach Shane Sisco said. “The whole point of this time of year is to survive and advance, and that’s what we did.
“We just made enough plays. At this time of year, it doesn’t matter how pretty or ugly it is, or what the margin is. It’s all about moving on. Monday night, there’s no pressure on us. I know it’s an elimination game. But, we’re playing the defending state champion who everyone has said all year will repeat. We’re going over there to put something together and see what happens. I know our kids will give a good effort.”
Playing loose, aggressive and confident, the Twisters used a spurt of nine consecutive points to build an 11-point lead late in the first quarter and then ran off eight straight points at the end of the second to go up by as much as 13.
But, the halftime break seemed to take something away from UC, which did not show the same swagger in the second half as the Lions were battling back to eventually tie it up in the final seconds.
“We’ve been tight for some reason the last few games,” Sisco said. “I thought we came out loose, but as the game went on and got closer, the tighter we got. Our kids struggled with confidence on the offensive end. We drove in a couple of times and then turned it over, and we became a little tentative after that.”
After scoring 32 points in the first half, UC could barely find the basket in the second half with just eight points in the third quarter and only seven in the fourth.
Peyton Mosley scored twice inside to help keep the Twisters afloat in the third as Dresden quickly began to catch up. Three-pointers from Gatlin Hatchel and Brock Dilday — the trey from Dilday accounting for Dresden’s only points off the bench — sliced the difference to 34-29 at 4:21.
Ahead only twice in the game, with both leads coming before the game was two minutes old, the Lions fought back to finally tie it at 42-all as Joseph Sipes followed a 3-point play with a 3-point shot at 3:25.
Lewis connected at the line on the other end for a 43-42 UC lead with 3:10. Then, after a turnover resulted in Hatchel picking up his fifth foul, Mosley made perhaps the play of the game when he pulled down an offensive rebound off Malik Stockdale’s miss and put back a shot for a 45-42 lead at 2:18.
“He’s been our guy we’ve gone to all year long,” Sisco said of Mosley. “He’s stepped up and made plays for us all season, and he stepped up again and helped up move on for a chance to play in the region semifinals.”
UC then missed four times in six tries at the line, including two bonus front ends, and led just 46-44 with 31 seconds left. Sipes got off a 6-footer from the left baseline with 10 seconds remaining to tie it again, and Austin Daniel’s foul five ticks later put Lewis on the line for two shots.
Lewis hit the second, and then a 30-foot heave at the buzzer for Dresden was off the mark, preserving the win.
“Inside two minutes, we were just trying to hold on to it, get to the line and then make enough free throws to win it,” Sisco said. “We were just trying to shorten the game, basically, and make enough plays to win.”
UC got points from six different players in the opening period, including four points from LaMonte Dickerson in the 9-0 run that put the Twisters ahead 14-5 at 2:33. All but Marcus DeBerry’s 3-pointer, which answered Sipes’ game-opening trey, and Lewis’ free throw were field goals from six feet and in.
Union City then hit four straight freebies and two close-range baskets in an 8-0 spurt that had the Twisters up by its largest margin of 13 at 32-19 with 1:14 to play in the half.
“I thought we did an excellent job in the first half of attacking the basket and getting to the front of the rim,” Sisco said. “But then, for whatever reason, that was nonexistent in the second half.”
Mosley was UC’s only player in double figures with 16 points, while Sipes had 17 and McPeak added 13, including seven in the third period.
Published in The Messenger 2.27.12