Union (8-5) stayed in Saturday’s game all the way to the end and picked up a 62-59 win over a strong Sullivan South squad in the FCA Hoops Classic at Sullivan East’s Dyer Dome.
The victory came on the heels of a tough Mountain 7 District loss to Wise Central on Friday, also by a score of 62-59.
“It was a good win for us, especially after last night,” said Union coach Zack Moore. “It was disappointing coming in a district game. It’s a rival and it’s close. So we knew this game was going to be a challenge because they’re a really good team.
“Every game seems like it’s been like this for us. It really has. At the end of the season when you’re playing in a tournament, these are the type of games you have in the tournament. So we should be prepared by the time we get to the tournament with these one-possession, two-possession games.”
In a game that was close throughout, South (16-3) held a 44-42 lead heading into the final quarter.
The teams swapped the lead three times over the final eight minutes before Union went out front for good, 56-55, on an Alex Rasnick jumper with 2:22 remaining.
Bradley Bunch led the Bears with 20 points. Sean Cusano had 16 and Rasnick 13.
South got 22 points apiece from Ben Diamond and Cole Layne.
LADY BEARS OVERCOME SLUGGISH START
Union (10-3) built a comfortable lead through the first half and held off a determined South squad in the second for a 58-53 win.
“We had an emotional win last night and a conference win (over Wise Central) and I think we came out a little flat today,” Lady Bears coach Kory Bostic said. “But we made enough plays when we needed to make them to come out with the win. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the win. It wasn’t the prettiest game we played all year, but we made enough plays.
“We’ve got to do a better job making free throws down the stretch and all the little things,” Bostic added.
Up 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, Union increased its advantage to 30-19 at the half.
The Lady Rebels (7-11) battled back over the final two quarters and pulled within two, 42-40, with just over seven minutes left to play. The Lady Bears never surrendered the lead, however.
“We just kept competing,” Bostic said. “South had some momentum late in the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter. We could have let it get out of control, but I felt like we maintained a little bit of composure there and made enough plays down the stretch.”
Heather Lipps led a quartet of Union players who reached double-figure scoring with 17 points. Jayda Smith added 13, Abby Slagle finished with 11 and Brooke Bailey had 10.
South got a game-high 20 points from Abby Compton and 13 from Alex Harris.
LADY PATRIOTS HOLD OFF WOLFPACK
Ashley Nunley scored a career-high 14 points to lead host Sullivan East past Ridgeview 53-47 in the opening game of the day.
Haley Grubb added 12 points and Jenna Hare scored 11 for the Lady Patriots (12-8).
Ridgeview got 17 points from Haley Sutherland. Brooke Frazier added 16 for the Wolfpack (9-3).
A Frazier basket tied the game at 38 with 5:25 to play. There were three more ties before East took the lead for good at 49-47 on two Nunley free throws with 1:23 on the clock.
East made four more free throws in the final 34 seconds.
SULLIVAN EAST ROLLS PAST BATTLE
In the final game of the showcase, the boys of Sullivan East (9-8) got off to a quick start and never looked back on the way to an 81-24 victory over John Battle (4-9).
Dylan Bartley scored 22 points to lead the Patriots, and Mason Montgomery added 15.
Reed Samuel accounted for nine of the Trojans’ points.