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Jackets turn tables, sweep games at UP

Jan. 30—A month and a half after being embarrassed at home, Lee County's Lady Jackets turned the tables on Union Pines and won in the Lady Vikings' gym Friday night.

The two schools are 17.5 miles apart, but both the Lee men and women made themselves at home in Cameron. The Lady Jackets had lost by 31 points back on Dec. 12, when Lee (7-7, 3-4 Sandhills) had to play without injured guard Gillian Garrison. but scored a 49-38 road win on Friday at full strength. Meanwhile, the Lee men had lost four in a row, the last three in blowouts, but regrouped and scored a 77-71 win that avenged their 79-71 defeat from back in December.

Both Lee teams return to action tonight at Hoke County.

Lee County 49, Union Pines 38

The Lady Jackets pulled back to .500 with a solid performance that began with a fast start, as Lee led 8-1 a few minutes into the contest. Union Pines (10-8, 4-3), which needed a win to stay a game back of Scotland for the top 3A spot in the league, cut the deficit to one by the end of the opening quarter.

Lee outscored Union Pines 12-7 in the second quarter to lead 22-16 before the Lady Vikings made a move to open the second half, cutting the lead to a single point. But Lee answered with a 7-3 run to push the lead back to 31-26 going into the final period and pulled away from there.

Garrison showed how much her absence from the first meeting made a difference. The senior led Lee with 18 points and also grabbed five rebounds. However, Union Pines' biggest issue was that fellow senior Kelyce McSwain dominated on the inside. She had 15 points, 17 rebounds and blocked four shots. Lanaysha McIver had six points, while Kaleah Cotton made just one free throw, but had six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Lee County 77, Union Pines 71

The Lee men also started fast, taking a 24-16 lead into the break at the end of the first quarter. The Jackets remained ahead for the entire first half, leading by as many as 12 before settling for a 41-33 halftime lead.

The host Vikings made a move to begin the second half. slicing the lead down to 43-39, and then slowly crept even closer as the third quarter ended with the Jackets holding onto a perilous 51-50 edge. It looked like Union Pines was setting itself up for another strong fourth quarter, like they had back in December at Peace Gym to pull away late. However, this time the Jackets held them off, pushing the lead back to seven at one point before Union Pines made one final run, chopping a 60-53 deficit down to 62-60. The teams battled furiously down the stretch and the hosts twice cut it to one, at 66-65 and 68-67, but Lee made its free throws down the stretch and held on.

The game devolved into a showdown of three major scoring threats on both sides. The Vikings' junoor Jaylen Kyle led everyone with 28 points, and was well-supported by Trent Hilburn (19) and sophomore Kingsley Donaldson, who had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. However, the rest of the Union Pines team scored just six points. For the Yellow Jackets, Nic Farrow had 25 points, followed by Kamaree Butler with 19 and Ronnie Hooker with 18. They did get some help from Jayden Hill, who had eight points with four rebounds and four assists.

The Jackets won the game despite being outperformed in two key areas. Union Pines won the rebounding battle by a huge 39-12 margin and had a 14-9 edge in assists. However, Lee countered with a big day from behind the 3-point arc (10-20 to UP's 5-16), had just nine turnovers to the Vikings' 20, and had a 9-4 edge in steals.