Harnett Central dropped a pair of Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity basketball games to visiting Union Pines Friday.
A third-quarter surge powered Union Pines to a 52-40 win over Harnett Central in the girls game.
Senior Lya Molyneaux had 14 points and senior Syniah McMiller had 12 points to lead the Trojans (3-2, 1-2 TCSC).
Keke Snead and Shay Ward had four points apiece. Brittany Mills, Ivanna Jones and JoNese Monroe had two points apiece.
Senior Emily Bowbliss had 16 points and junior Aaliyah Balser had 15 points to pace the Vikings (7-0, 5-0).
The first half was closely contested, with Central leading 15-12 at the end of the first quarter and the game tied 25-25 at halftime.
The Vikings took control of the game in the third quarter, going on a 14-4 run to lead 39-29 at the end of the quarter.
The Trojans picked up their intensity again in the fourth quarter, but could not cut into the lead, as they were outscored 13-11 in the fourth.
Harnett Central could not find consistency as Union Pines won the boys game 47-31.
“I thought we played OK at times,” said Harnett Central boys coach Will Gage. “We talked about it even in the preseason that I thought the nights that we played defense we would have a chance and that defense was going to have to make our offense. The times that we looked good tonight, I thought that’s what happened: defense made offense. There just were not enough of those opportunities.”
Central is still trying to find its footing after having only returned two players from last year’s varsity team and dealing with missing two weeks while quarantining for COVID-19.
“Nothing can replace experience,” Gage said. “And when you don’t have it, you can’t create it. These guys have kind of got to learn on the fly. And this is our fourth game. A lot of teams have played a lot more games than that. A lot of teams have played twice as many. And we don’t have a long time to rebound. We’ve got another game tomorrow. If we don’t play well defensively, tomorrow night’s going to be a long night, as well.
Junior Seven McClain had 10 points to lead the Trojans (0-4, 0-2).
Chris Mills had seven points. Khalil Cameron had five points. Cohen Walker and Quez Jones had three points apiece. Xavier Harris had two points. Xavier Bailey had one point.
Junior Kelby Wright had 11 points and junior Isaiah Robbins had 10 points to lead the Vikings (4-2, 3-1).
Union Pines went on a 13-4 run through the first quarter and maintained the nine-point lead at halftime after both teams scored 13 points in the second quarter.
The Vikings opened the third quarter on a 9-1 run to push the lead to 14 before McClain scored to start Central on a 7-1 run to cut the lead to eight.
“I thought it was real close to ballooning to 20,” Gage said. “Because we weren’t doing anything right. And then suddenly we kind of got a defensive spark and we fed off of it. But what we’ve got to do is expand on that and just understand what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are and that defense makes offense.”
But after Demari Patterson scored to push the lead to 35-25 at the end of the third, the Vikings went on a 12-6 run through the fourth quarter to close out the game.
Harnett Central is making up a varsity boys game from Tuesday at conference and Harnett County rival Triton (2-3, 2-1) on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Harnett Central travels to conference and county rival Western Harnett on Tuesday.