|UC girls’ program makes history with No. 2 state ranking |
|Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 7:00 pm |
| By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
That a Union City High School basketball team is ranked second in the Associated Press prep poll certainly isn’t history-making news.
However, the fact that it’s the Lady Tornadoes makes it that way.
The UC girls earned the program’s first-ever state ranking when they debuted at No. 2 in the first AP listing of the season Monday afternoon.
Union City (15-3) trails only Jackson County — the team that beat them in last year’s state semifinals — in the Top 10. The Twister girls received three first-place votes from sports writers and broadcasters across the state, totaling 123 total points in all.
A laughing stock for several decades, the Twister girls have gradually become relevant the past few seasons — culminated by the program’s first-ever modern day trip to the state tournament last March when they made it to Final 4 and set a school record for most wins (22) in a season.
The Lady Tornadoes have built on that success this year, handing Westview (16-2 and ranked fourth in Class 2A) its only losses and also beating No. 9 (1A) Lake County by 24 points.
UC’s only losses have come to the No. 1 ranked team in Division II, Ensworth (12-1), by four points, a one-point setback vs. 3A Munford (14-4), and a two-point loss to a team from the Memphis Homeschool Association in a Hall of Champions game.
Fourth-year head coach Eddie Suiter, who also took Obion Central to the state tournament during a five-year stint at Troy and has overseen program building at Spring Hill and Fulton City, welcomed the spotlight on the Lady Tornadoes.
“We’re not going to hide from it,” Suiter told the Messenger this morning. “I’m proud of it and I’m proud of our kids because they’ve worked hard to earn the attention that the state rankings bring.
“I know a lot of folks talk about this putting a bull’s-eye on our backs now, but we’ve made it a point of emphasis with the team already that — as far as district-wise — that was already the case because of what we accomplished last year. Our biggest challenge is keeping the kids hungry. And I think they are still hungry to accomplish more.”
The Union City girls were joined in the rankings Monday by their boy counterparts, who were listed at No. 10.
Likely a byproduct of their past success that has included five state championships, the Golden Tornadoes (11-6) round out the rankings despite six losses. Four of those setbacks, however, have come vs. Class 2A opponents — including three vs. ranked teams — with a fifth against out-of-state Olive Branch, Miss.
UC’s lone loss vs. a Single-A entry came against District 14A brethren Greenfield.
The Obion Central girls — runnersup to Christ Presbyterian Academy last year in Class 2A — were tied for ninth.
The Lady Rebels (15-5), coming off back-to-back losses — the second to No. 4 Westview Friday night — will likely find things little easier tonight when they host No. 7 Covington (16-2) in a District 13AA battle for second place behind the Lady Chargers.
Covington boys (14-3) are also ranked, at No. 6.
The Dyer County boys, winners of 15 of 16 games, will carry a No. 7 status in Class 3A into their game at South Fulton tonight. The Choctaws feature University of Tennessee signee Robert Hubbs, listed among the top prep players in the country.
A complete listing of the polls can be found on page seven.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in The Messenger 1.8.13