Union Pines jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the opening quarter and went on to take a 50-35 win over Harnett Central on Thursday night in the championship game of the Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity girls basketball tournament at Campbell’s Gore Arena.
Union Pines (19-7) was led by Hadiya Balser with 18 points before she fouled out with 1:51 to go. Sarah Kelly had 15 points for the Lady Vikings, who recorded their second win in three meetings with Central to earn the league’s top seeding for the NCHSAA playoffs.
Postseason pairings are scheduled to be announced Saturday.
The Lady Trojans (19-4) were led by Maliah Banks with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and six steals. Michaela Cabe had seven points. Marcayla Jones finished with four points and eight rebounds.
Jordyn Johnson-McLean had three points and six rebounds. Brittany Mills had three points and Lyanah Molyneau scored two.
“We played two quarters and we allowed them to beat us in two quarters,” said Central coach Chelsey Cabe. “They’re a good, fundamentally-sound team. … We allowed too many second- and third-chance opportunities. They got offensive rebounds and they scored off of those.
“The first and the third quarter really hurt us.”
The Lady Trojans outscored Union Pines 12-10 in the second quarter to trail 24-16 at the half. Central was on the short end of a 13-3 count in the third.
The Vikings had a 42-19 advantage before the Trojans started a 15-4 run to get within 46-34 with 2:27 to go. HC had a 16-13 scoring lead for the fourth quarter.
Banks went out with 1:41 remaining after she was hit in the nose with an elbow while pressuring in the backcourt.
Freshman post player Syniah McMiller was sidelined in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Coach Cabe said her status for the playoffs was a wait-and-see situation.
Central has just four losses this season, but has dropped two of three at Gore Arena.
Southern Lee won the boys championship, 59-40, over Lee County.