After suffering two straight losses last week at the Borgia Tournament, Union was anxious to get back on the floor for its Four Rivers Conference home game Monday against St. Clair.
The two teams played a close game all the way with the Lady ’Cats claiming a 48-41 victory at Union High School.
“We needed a win to get that confidence booster, to get our heads back up after a tough stretch at the Borgia Tournament,” said Union Head Coach Grant Young. “Whether it was a one-point win or a 20-point win, you have to get kids’ confidence up. The only way you can do it sometimes is stepping on the floor again.”
Union (14-6, 3-1) currently stands in a second-place tie with Hermann in the FRC standings, one game behind 4-0 Sullivan. Pacific and St. James both are 2-2.
“We have a crazy conference with a lot of good teams. There’s no easy game,” Young said. “The team playing the best at district time will win it. A lot of it has to do with matchups on the floor.”
St. Clair (10-10, 1-3) has dropped two straight league games.
“The girls played hard. I was pleased with our effort,” said St. Clair Head Coach Jena Carroll. “It was one those games that could have gone either way. It came down to a couple of possessions that changed the momentum.”
Bethany Coons led all scorers in the game with 17 points for Union. She was 7-10 from the free-throw line.
Alyssa Coons and Whitney Vitt both finished the game with eight points. All eight of Alyssa Coons’ points came in a span of two minutes during the second quarter.
Rachael Bassett pitched in with seven points.
Abbie Brack and Megan Altemueller both added three points. Briana Lakebrink scored two points.
Also playing were Jill Johnston, Anna Houston, Kaila Aubuchon and Maddy Weinhold.
“They took advantage of our size. They posted us up. That’s an advantage everybody is going to have on us. We try to find out what defense can help us,” Young said. “Our kids did a great job. We played 11 kids. Megan Altemueller came in and hit a big three for us.”
Bassett, Union’s leading scorer and rebounder, is dealing with a back injury. She did not start, but did play.
“We have four scorers who average double figures with the two Coons girls, Rachael and Whitney. We’re going to have a different player step up every night,” Young said. “We’re best when we get the rebound, get in transition and go. That’s what we’re missing with Rachael. She’s averaging 10 rebounds a game. We’re just not getting off to the races to get our easy layups and transition threes.”
Young hopes to have Bassett full healthy soon.
“Before Rachael got hurt, she was averaging 15 points and almost 11 rebounds a game. Now she’s barely at 11 and eight because of the time she gets in,” Young said. “We have to have her on the floor because she’s the glue for us. We feel more relaxed when she’s out there. We have to get healthy.”
Karissa Hoffman led St. Clair with 14 points, 12 in the first half. She also had nine rebounds and three steals.
Sam Deason finished the game with 12 points, 10 in the second half. She added seven rebounds.
Allison Hinson added nine points and three assists.
Kayla Klenke, Anna Reed and Alicia York each scored two points.
Also playing were Katelyn Guehne, Halley Cokley and Emily Presley.
Union was 13-23 from the free-throw line. St. Clair was 5-7.
“With a little over four minutes to play, they got three offensive rebounds and used the clock during each possession to their advantage,” Carroll said. “They shot well from the outside and that hurt us.”
The Lady Bulldogs jumped to an 8-2 lead in the opening six minutes and led 8-7 after one quarter.
Alyssa Coons scored eight quick points to help Union gain the lead 20-19 midway through the second quarter.
The Lady ’Cats held a 25-22 halftime advantage.
The game was tied 31-31 with 4:36 remaining in the third quarter.
Union took a 39-36 advantage into the final eight minutes.
St. Clair could not pull closer than three points during the fourth period.
“We got down early. I tried to keep them calm. We didn’t shoot our best. Our three-point shooting wasn’t there, even on our home floor,” Young said. “We do so much through Rachael inside to get open looks, and we just don’t have that yet until she gets healthy. The good thing is we adjusted defensively on them. Whitney Vitt did a good job inside with our 1-2-2 to stop some of the posting up that No. 23 (Hoffman) did against us.”
Union’s JV team improved to 16-2 on the season with a win over St. Clair.
St. Clair hosts St. James Thursday at 6 p.m. Union visits Owensville Friday for a 6 p.m. varsity start.