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Strong finish lifts Unity Prep

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The Unity Preparatory Academy Rams shook off a late challenge from visiting Solid Rock to win their home finale.

After trailing by 14 points early in the fourth quarter, Solid Rock got within four with a little more than three minutes to play.

With Jay Russell delivering a clutch late-game performance, though, Unity Prep pulled away for a 77-67 victory to improve to 7-4.

Unity Prep visits Central Christian today, and the stakes are high.

If the Rams win, they advance to the region tournament, but if they lose their season is over.

In Thursday’s game, Russell led the Rams with 21 points, and he provided some critical late-game plays to help his team prevail.

After getting within four, Solid Rock had the ball with an opportunity to climb even closer, but Russell held his defensive ground and took a charge

On the other end, Russell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it a six-point game.

With 1:10 to play, Russell converted a steal into a layup, and the lead was 73-65, and the Rams were firmly in control of the game.

After Solid Rock got within six, Unity Prep scored the final four points to win going away.

“I just had to have it,” Russell, describing his mindset in the fourth quarter. “We had to win. I was happy.”

Russell was one of four Rams in double figures in scoring.

Dre Towns had 19 points, Tavion Harton contributed 16 points, and Tra Martin scored 12 points.

Dre Baldwin, Unity Prep’s head coach, has enjoyed being around this group of players this season, and he appreciates their competitive spirit.

“They’re very respectful,” Baldwin said. “They’re with us to learn. They’re very hungry for the team. I’ll tell you one thing, they hate losing.”

Baldwin added that “they treat each other as brothers.”

In Tuesday’s game, both teams were finding the offensive range early, and Unity Prep trailed 24-22 after the opening quarter.

The Rams continued to find the basket in the second quarter, and they surged to a 43-38 lead at the half.

Unity Prep outscored Solid Rock 16-9 in the third quarter to grab a 59-47 lead heading to the final period.

Solid Rock made a charge in the fourth quarter to get within four before Unity Prep put it away.

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