The Bears, with only one senior on their roster, advanced to the championship game of the Grand Home Furnishings Holiday Classic at Virginia-Wise’s Prior Center with a 59-44 win over Richlands on Saturday.
Union reached the tournament title game for the third time the last four years and the fourth time in the tourney’s six-year history.
View the photo gallery from Saturday’s semifinals
The Bears (5-2), who did not participate in last season’s tournament because of a trip to the Arby’s Classic, won the Grand Holiday Classic championship in 2016 and 2017. They lost the 2014 title to Lebanon in the inaugural tournament.
This time, Union meets Mountain 7 District rival Lee High (7-1) on Monday at 8:30 p.m. The Generals (7-1) defeated Ridgeview 48-30 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Alex Rasnick scored 21 points and Noah Jordan added 15 to pace the Bears, but coach Zack Moore was particularly pleased with his team’s defense.
“Defensively, Bradley Bunch was really good inside,” Moore said. “I thought Bradley’s length and just standing straight up, he deflected some shots and he contested some shots.”
With a youthful team that includes one senior, one junior, four sophomores and three freshmen, Moore said everyone is playing a role in the early-season success.
“I told the guys it doesn’t matter who starts, we’ve basically got seven or eight starters,” Moore said. “You’ve got to keep playing. You’ve got to play defense. You’ve got to get rebounds. If you’re not making shots, you’ve got to find other ways to help the team. That’s kind of what we’ve been preaching.”
Moore said his team’s youth is not an excuse this season.
“If we were 2-5, I wouldn’t come in here and say, ‘Hey we’re young.’ We are what we are. I’m just trying to coach these guys every day,” he noted. “I just see a lot of room for improvement. We can do a lot better and hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be a team that no one wants to play.”
The Blue Tornado got 11 points from Cade Berry and 10 from Cade Simmons.
Richlands (4-3) meets Ridgeview (7-3) at 7 p.m. in Monday’s third-place game.
LEE HIGH 48, RIDGEVIEW 35
The Generals’ semifinal victory was all about defense. They limited Ridgeview to 20 points over the final three quarters.
First-year Lee coach Kevon Honeycutt has his team buying into his defensive- minded approach.
“I told my guys from the beginning of the year that I’m big on defense, and that’s how you win ballgames,” he said. “That’s what we did tonight, win the ballgame because the defense decided to play.”
Lee’s 7-1 start is the program’s best in recent memory, and with each win come more excitement and enthusiasm.
“There’s a lot of excitement. Our student body has always thought really highly of us,” the coach said. “They’re a firm believer now and we’ve made believers out of them. It’s an exciting season for us now.”
Lee had three players score in double figures, getting 12 points from Logan Grace, 11 from Jacob Whitaker and 10 from Dylan Fannon.
Gabe Brown and Cannon Hill finished with eight points each for the Wolfpack.
NORTHWOOD 85, RYE COVE 50
Northwood (3-3) outscored Rye Cove 19-3 in the fourth quarter to seal the consolation win.
Brothers Luke (35) and Eli Carter (20) combined for 55 points to lead the Panthers.
Rye Cove (4-3) got 20 points and 16 rebounds from Ethan Chavez, and Matthew Rhoton finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
In Monday’s consolation play, Rye Cove meets Chilhowie at 1 p.m. and Northwood faces Grundy at 2:30 p.m.
GRUNDY 78, CHILHOWIE 54
Grundy jumped ahead early and outscored Chilhowie 40-26 in the second half of their consolation game.
Cade Looney had an impressive stat line for the Golden Wave (5-1), finishing with 34 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. Corey Keene added 17 points.
Chilhowie (4-6) got 13 points from Josh Tuell, 11 from Tabor Kistler and 10 from Jonathan Gilley.