It’s been quite the week for the Union girls basketball team.
The Lady Yellowjackets won three playoff games this week, capping off the week with a 35-32 win over West Lincoln, avenging a loss from last season that ended Union’s season to qualify for the Class 2A Final Four at the Mississippi Coliseum this week for the first time in 28 years.
Union started the week with a 46-43 win over Bogue Chitto and then hammered Puckett 61-31 on Wednesday.
For Union coach Matt Wilbanks, it’s been a long journey for his team.
“We found a way to get it done,” Union coach Matt Wilbanks said. “I’m just so happy for them, that they get to experience playing in the Big House. I know how hard it is to get there. It’s a surreal experience but they have put it together. They have come a long way in four years.”
Union is advancing to the state tournament for the first time since 1993 when former coach Steve Harber took the Lady Yellowjackets, losing to eventual champion Hollandale Simmons in the semifinals.
The Lady Yellowjackets will take on defending Class 2A champion Calhoun City on Tuesday in a 10:30 a.m. contest.
“To be honest, it may play in our favor,” Wilbanks said. “We have played that early in a couple of tournaments this year so it’s not new to us. We will take any advantage we can get. They are the defending 2A champions and have a post player that’s playing in the Mississippi-Alabama All-star game.”
Union 35, West Lincoln 32
The Lady Yellowjackets opened up a first-half lead and had to come from behind in the fourth to take a three-point win over Lady Bears and advance to the state tournament.
“We found a way to get it done,” Wilbanks said. “I thought West Lincoln was way better than we were. If we played them 10 times, they may win eight of them. They were bigger than we were but I thought we were more physical than they were. They have a really good point guard and she fouled out with about three minutes in the game on a charge. I thought that was a big play in the game.”
Union led 14-10 at the end of the first period and 19-16 at the half. West Lincoln took the third period 7-5 to cut the lead to 24-23 before Union outscored the Lady Bears 11-9 in the fourth to take the win.
Kamyia Russell led Union with 11 points while Kerria Russell had nine points. Keshona Smoot had eight points while Trinity Lambert chipped in five.
“They actually took a two-point lead and we got a big 3-pointer from Keshona Smoot to take the lead and Kamyia Russell hit two big free throws at the end. They just kept on the battling and made the big plays when they had to.”
Union 61, Puckett 31
The Lady Yellowjackets took an easy second-round win on Wednesday as they beat the Lady Wolves by 30.
Union dominated the first half as they led 11-4 at the end of the first and then outscored the Lady Wolves 19-5 to lead 30-9 at the half. Union extended its lead in the third period as the Lady Yellowjackets outscored the Lady Bears 18-9 to lead 48-18 going to the fourth, where each team scored 13 points.
Kamyia Russell led a balanced scoring attack with 14 points while Kerria Russell had 13 points. Madison Buckley and Keshona Smoot each had nine points while Georgia Cooper and Trinity Lambert each had six points apiece.