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Union girls beat Marion, set up showdown with Ridgeview

JOHNNY WILSON • Feb 27, 2020 at 12:39 AM

MARION, Va. — Growing up by the shadow of Big A Mountain in the heart of coal country, Council native Kory Bostic doesn't sweat tricky road conditions.

Therefore, that 180-mile round trip amid all of Wednesday night's nastiness was well worth the effort for Bostic and his Union girls basketball team.

"Absolutely," the sixth-year Union head coach said. "And I'm the bus driver."

Relying on seasoned veterans and a pair of decisive spurts, Union opened Region 2D play with a convincing 56-43 quarterfinal victory over homestanding Marion, moving within one step of playing in the Class 2 state tournament.

And that's the goal, of course, for the Lady Bears and their four senior starters.

"We've got a great group of seniors," Bostic said. "Three of them are four-year starters. We're hoping to make a little noise in the region this week and we want to see our seniors have a chance to go on and play in the state tournament."

To play an extra week, the Lady Bears must defeat Ridgeview, their opponent Friday night in the region semifinals on the campus of UVA-Wise.

Competing as the No. 3 seed out of the ultra-tough Mountain 7 District, Union knows it will have its hands full, but the Bears (19-7) won't be scared to stare down the top-seeded Lady Wolfpack, who just won the league tournament.

"Everybody in our conference has beat everybody else," said Bostic, who split with Ridgeview during the regular season. "Our conference is really tough statewide, and it really prepares you for this."

LADY BEARS NEVER TRAIL

Union was clearly ready for Marion, leaping out to a 9-0 lead and never trailing.

The Lady Scarlet Hurricanes, who began the game with five turnovers and three missed shots over their first eight possessions, did rally to get within 16-13 early in the second quarter, but the Lady Bears led 29-20 at halftime and never allowed Marion (17-8) to get any closer after intermission.

Up 40-30 with eight minutes to play, Union scored the first 15 points of the final quarter to assume total command at 55-30 with 3:31 left in the game.

Marion put up the game's last 11 points to make the final more respectable.

"We went through a couple of stretches where we didn't take real good care of the ball, but we did start the first and fourth quarters on a good note," Bostic said. "We try to start each quarter out strong to set the tempo if we can."

SCORING LEADERS

With terrific ball movement, Union used great balance to beat Marion.

Abby Slagle, a promising 5-foot-8 freshman baseliner, led all Union scorers with 16 points. Heather Lipps made four 3s and scored 15 points for the Lady Bears, while fellow senior Jayda Smith pitched in 13 points of her own.

The Lady Hurricanes, the No. 2 seed out of the Southwest District, were led by the 17-point outing of Amber Kimberlin, who made three 3s.

Marion coach Sallie Lefler Moss held a lengthy meeting with her team, its season now over, following the game and was unavailable for comment.

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