A big second half surge sent Winchester’s Lady Falcons past the Union City Lady Indians 63-51 in the first semifinal game Friday night in the Randolph County Tournament at Lynn.
Winchester will play Monroe Central, winners over Randolph Southern 68-28 in the second semifinal Friday, in the championship contest slated to start Saturday night at 6 pm.
The Winchester-Union City tilt resulted in a tale of two halves. Union City thoroughly dominated the first half, opening up leads as big as 15 points over the Falcons, 30-15, before taking a 39-31 advantage into the halftime break.
The Falcons completely dominated the second half, outscoring the Indians 32-12, tightening up their defense, taking away the three-point opportunities that gave the Lady Indians the early momentum and the huge lead.
Union City shot “lights out” in the first half, connecting on 16 of 25 shots, including seven of nine from behind the three-point arc. Diminutive senior Mackenzie Green provided the spark, hitting her first three three-point shots to get the Indians off and running.
Green hit successive triples that sandwiched an Ara Cowper basket inside, giving Union City the early 6-2 lead. Mariah Claywell improved the lead to 8-2, before Becca Chamberlin pulled Winchester to within 8-4. Consecutive fielders from Claywell preceded Green’s third home run. The Indians led 15-4 at the midway point of the first frame.
Back-to-back rebound baskets by the Lawrence sisters, Maddie and Morgan, had Winchester within seven points at 17-10, before Skylie Lutz got into Union City’s three-point act, delivering a triple that doubled the score on the Falcons. Lutz followed with a drive to the hoop. Union City led 22-10. Union City partisans had the gym rattling with their approval.
A free throw from Maddie Lawrence and a hoop from Morgan Lawrence closed the period, with the Indians owning a 22-13 advantage.
Green’s fourth bomb from long range opened the second stanza just as she opened the ballgame. The Indians achieved the 30-15 advantage, their largest lead of the contest, with Lutz’s second triple.
Taylor Baker retaliated for Winchester with her own three-point basket. Union City’s lead was still 34-20 after two Emily Livingston hoops in the paint. Becca Chamberlin answered with Winchester’s second three-pointer, but following Lutz’s third three-ball, Union City still possessed a 39-25 margin.
Winchester seized momentum just like the Indians did in the teams’ first encounter of the season. In that game, the Falcons led by 16 in the waning moments of the first half, when Union City scored the final two baskets of the half.
The shoe was on the other foot in Friday’s contest. Union City led by 14 points this time, and Winchester closed the first half with three baskets, two by Caitlyn Campbell sandwiching a hoop by Becca Chamberlin, giving the Falcons a glimmer of hope by reducing the deficit under double digits at 39-31.
A steal by Claywell led to a lay up by Green, providing Union City with a double-figure lead to open the third session. Winchester scored the next 10 points, three baskets by Becca Chamberlin and two by Campbell, to tie the score at 41.
The Lady Falcons of Coach Holly Gutierrez gained their first lead of the affair at the 3:30 mark of the third period. Maci Chamberlin connected on the second of her two charity tosses. The lead was ephemeral, however, as Lutz put the Indians back in front, 43-42.
That lead was also short-lived. Maddie Lawrence’s three-point play at 2:45 gave Winchester the lead for good. Becca Chamberlin followed with a three-pointer off a dish from Baker, Chamberlin’s seventh, eighth, and ninth points of the period. When Maci Chamberlin added two freebies, the Falcons possessed a 50-43 lead at the third stop.
The Falcons had outscored the Indians 19-4 in the third period.
After a Morgan Lawrence fielder, successive hoops by Claywell and Lutz cut the Indian deficit to five points, 52-47. Winchester responded with seven successive points, the last three coming on a Campbell three-point play. The Falcons led 59-47.
Green answered for Union City with a three-point play of her own with 4:11 remaining. Winchester then went into stall mode, forcing the Indians to foul to regain possession of the ball. The Falcons scored four of the game’s final five points to take the 12-point decision, 63-51.
Coach Sarah Black’s Lady Indians fall to 11-6 with the loss. Lutz and Green shared game-high scoring honors with 17 points apiece. Livingston had nine points and eight rebounds. Claywell finished with eight points and an impressive floor game.
Three Falcons reached double digits. Seniors Becca Chamberlin and Maddie Lawrence shared scoring honors with 16 points. Campbell finished with 15 points. Maddie also finished with 11 rebounds, earning a double-double.
Coach Gutierrez noted that the unsung heroes for the Falcons were the girls that played defense in their triangle and two against Union City. The Falcons had chasers on Lutz and Green, with Gena Moore, Baker, Maci and Becca Chamberlin, and Morgan Lawrence all taking turns defending the Indians prolific three-point artists.
Winchester 13 31 50 63
Union City 22 39 43 51
Falcons--Ma. Lawrence 6 4-5 16, B. Chamberlin 7 0-0 16, Moore 0 0-0 0, Cowper 1 0-0 2, Mo. Lawrence 3 0-3 6, Campbell 7 1-3 15, Baker 1 2-2 5, M. Chamberlin 0 3-4 3, Hicks 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 10-17 63.
Indians--Carpenter 0 0-0 0, Rismiller 0 0-0 0, Claywell 4 0-0 8, Green 6 1-1 17, Lutz 7 0-0 17, Cox 0 0-0 0, Livingston 4 1-2 9, Smith 0 0-0 0, Corona 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 2-3 51.