Baldwin knocks off Union County
The Tigers will play at The Villages on Feb. 19 in the 1A regional playoff
Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 12:10 a.m.
NEWBERRY — For the Union County Tigers boys basketball team, the motto for the 2012-2013 season has been unfinished business after the team came up three points short to Hawthorne in the 1A state semifinal game last year.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, that unfinished business this season will have to take place on the road.
Union County, the top seed in the 7-1A District tournament, lost in the championship game to second-seeded Baldwin 66-62 Saturday night at Newberry's gym.
The Tigers (15-12) beat Baldwin by 14 and 11 points in the two regular-season meetings as Union County rolled to a 7-1 record in district play.
But Baldwin (16-9) stayed with Union County all game Saturday and pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 27-20 in the final period to pull away for the win.
Shaimea Maeweather led Union County with 26 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and Carl Alexander added 21 points, including 3 three-pointers. But the Tigers were only 13 of 25 from the free-throw line, missing key free throws down the stretch in the final period.
“That was the difference from the first two games with Baldwin,” Union County coach Rufus Jefferson said. “Free throws. We struggled again and Baldwin made theirs down the stretch.”
Baldwin was led by Heseny Arreguin, who scored 22 points. Included in that was 11 of 12 from the free throw line in the final period, where he scored 14 points. Johan Vann chipped in with 14 points for the Indians, including four 3-pointers made. Baldwin converted 15 of 18 from the charity stripe in the second half.
Keldric Bradley, coming off a 29-point performance in Union County's semifinal win over Newberry on Friday night, managed only seven points Saturday and missed two key free throws late.
The game was close throughout, with Union County leading Baldwin 29-27 at the halftime break.
The Tigers led by as many as seven in the third quarter but Baldwin closed within 40-39 at the end of the third period. And the Indians took over in the fourth quarter with three pointers and free throws.
“They did seem more fired up than we were tonight,” Jefferson added. “It looked like we thought because we beat them twice before we would just show up and win, and we didn't have our normal focus.”
The good news for Union County is it will move on to the regional playoffs, albeit on the road. The Tigers will have 10 days off before travelling to The Villages in the 1A regional semifinals on Feb. 19, while Baldwin hosts Wildwood in another regional semi. Last year the Tigers won two games at home to advance to the 1A state semifinals in Lakeland.
“We would have liked to be at home, we are definitely more comfortable there,” Jefferson said. “But we will re-focus and do what we have to do on the road to advance.”
And if Union County and Baldwin both win their first playoff games, the teams would meet for the fourth time this season with a berth in the 1A state semifinals on the line. That would suit Jefferson just fine.
“Oh yes, I would love to see Baldwin again,” Jefferson said. “And I hope we do. But we have to take care of our own business first.”
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