Randolph Southern is one step away from claiming another Randolph County Tournament championship in girls basketball.
Union has chances at two titles tonight.
Randolph Southern faces Union at 6 p.m. at Winchester Fieldhouse in the girls final. The annual tournaments, twice delayed because of weather last week, conclude with the Union-Monroe Central boys basketball final at 8.
“I get choked up,” Randolph Southern girls coach Jerimy Stephan said after the Rebels ended Winchester’s four-year reign as girls champion with a semifinal victory on Saturday night. “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication. In the history of Randolph Southern, there have only been five county champions. For us to be able to have a chance to get that sixth one, it’s amazing.”
Randolph Southern (8-4) was the last non-Winchester girls county winner, claiming the top spot with a win against — who else? — the Falcons in the 2008-09 season.
That game, ironically, also came on a Monday because of weather delays and was played at Winchester Fieldhouse.
“I told them I know what it’s like to cut down a net and I want them to experience that,” Stephan said. “Not a lot of county champs have been from Southern. What a great chance for these girls to etch their name in history.”
Union (11-2) advanced to the girls final by halting Union City in the semifinal round. The Rockets also outlasted Monroe Central in an overtime thriller on Friday night.
“We have got to do a better job on the defensive end rebounding and we’ve to get after loose balls,” said first-year Union coach Tom Zell. “We do not get anywhere near half of the loose balls. It seems like the other team, Monroe Central (Friday) night and (Union City on Saturday), they were just beating us to those loose ball situations, and we need to pick up part of those.”
The Rockets are aiming for a repeat on the boys side.
“Energy,” Union boys coach Jeff Holloway answered when asked what he wanted from the Rockets tonight. “I just want to see energy. Effort. Aggressiveness. Confidence. Tip it up and see what happens.”
Union (6-4) advanced with a 56-38 win over Union City on Saturday. Monroe Central (6-3) moved on by overcoming a 10-point second-half deficit to knock out host Winchester 57-40.
Union fell 67-60 in overtime at Monroe Central on Dec. 20.
“They’re not going to quit,” first-year Monroe Central coach Tom Byrum said of the Rockets. “They’ve got good guard play. They’re big inside. They play good defenses. They mix it up well. We’ve got our hands full.”
They did on Saturday as well, but that didn’t stop the Golden Bears.
Monroe Central trailed Winchester 23-13 early in the third quarter before surging on 8-of-9 shooting from the field.
“I’m elated for these seniors. I’m elated for these juniors,” Byrum said. “I’m elated for the team, the community, everybody. It’s a big deal to us.”
It was a big deal for the Rockets last year. Their county championship continued momentum started when the Rockets won a sectional championship in Class A in 2011-12.
It continued with another Union sectional title last season.
“It’s the same kind of format, and you see several different teams,” Holloway said. “The more tournaments you can play in when you’re playing multiple nights in a few days, you’re getting ready for that sectional and you try to re-create that.”