Solid free-throw shooting down the stretch helped the Lady Bears take a 44-41 Mountain 7 District victory at Ridgeview in the regular-season finale for both squads.
The win was Union’s first over the Wolfpack in girls basketball since Ridgeview, a consolidated school in Dickenson County, opened in 2015.
Both teams begin district tournament play on Tuesday. Second-seeded Ridgeview (17-5, 9-3) will host seventh-seeded Lee High (4-18, 0-12) and fourth-seeded Union (17-5, 8-4) will host fifth-seeded Wise Central (9-13, 4-8).
MONEY FROM THE LINE
Union hit 13 of 23 free throws for the game but made its opportunities count when they mattered the most.
The Lady Bears connected on 5 of 6 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, including a 4-for-4 effort in the final two minutes.
Ridgeview’s final quarter at the free-throw line was in stark contrast. In the final period, the Wolfpack made just one of its eight foul shots — going 0-for-5 in the final 1:42 of the contest.
The ’Pack shot just 6-for-18 from the line for the game.
“I always tell my team layups and free throws win games and we made both of them in the last two or three minutes of the game,” said Union coach Kory Bostic. “We’ve got nine players on our roster and all nine are contributing and they’re just all in for winning and trying to advance and trying to get our team where it needs to be going into the tournament.”
The ability to limit Ridgeview’s offense made a big difference, the coach said.
“Ridgeview has a great team. They pressure the ball and they’ve got a great defensive team,” Bostic said. “I felt like our defense was great tonight. We made a couple of more plays.”
Union starters Heather Lipps and Emili Brooks fouled out in the fourth quarter, and Bostic was happy to see other players — such as Abby Slagle and Jaylan Webb — come through with big plays.
Slagle, who finished with 11 points, made a basket with 57 seconds left to put Union up 42-41.
And after a missed ’Pack basket on the other end, Webb nailed two free throws for the game’s final points.
Jayda Smith led Union’s scorers with 12 points.
Ridgeview, which got 13 points from Brook Frazier and 10 from Cassidy Thomas, missed four shot attempts in the waning seconds.
BEARS CLINCH THIRD
In the boys’ game, Union (14-8, 7-5) clinched the third seed for next week’s Mountain 7 tournament with a 55-45 win over Ridgeview (11-11, 3-9).
The host Wolfpack cut Union’s lead to 40-38 with 5:39 remaining in the game.
But the Bears embarked on an 8-0 run to build a 48-38 advantage with 3:35 showing on the clock and held a comfortable lead the rest of the way.
Alex Rasnick led Union with 19 points. Bradley Bunch, Sean Cusano and Noah Jordan each had 10.
Ridgeview was led by Brody Counts’ 14 points. Trenton Adkins totaled 13 and Gabe Brown had 12.
These teams will see each other again soon. Union will host Ridgeview in opening-round district tournament action Monday.