Chris Simmons and his Union Wildcats are breathing a sigh of relief following the team’s first Four Rivers Conference win Friday in Owensville.
The Wildcats (5-16, 1-4) knocked off the Dutchmen (5-16, 0-5) to complete a Union sweep, 31-24.
“It was an ugly game all around,” Simmons said. “Both teams shot poorly, there was very little flow to the game, and it was very physical. I was proud of how our boys kept their composure throughout the game and continued to battle. They fought really hard and in the end, we made some plays that put us up when we needed to.”
Simmons said the Wildcats sealed the win late in the contest.
“Late in the game, we got a couple big plays from Zig (Nick Ziegler) and TJ (Vitt) going to the rim,” said Simmons. “Our bigs did a great job of controlling the glass which has been an emphasis. Despite it being so ugly, I was proud of the kids. It was our first conference win of the season, which is always the toughest.”
However, Union lost a rescheduled home game Monday to Whitfield, 59-47. That game originally was on the schedule for Jan. 29, but Whitfield chose not to travel to Union with the possibility of strong storms projected for that night.
Things changed dramatically in the second half.
“In the second half, we played absolutely no team defense and offensively, we made countless unforced turnovers,” Simmons said. “We played without any competitive spirit whatsoever in the second half and responded poorly to Whitfield’s better play. They played harder and with more passion than we did. We held them to 15 points in the first half because of our defense, but in the second half, we gave up 44 points and most of them were scored from within five feet of the rim.”
Playing Friday at Owensville, the Wildcats gave Union a sweep of the night’s action. Union also won the girls game which started the evening’s event.
Friday’s game also likely played a role in Union being seeded above Owensville in Saturday’s Class 4 District 9 seed meeting at Pacific. Union was ranked fifth while Owensville drew the sixth seed.
Neither team could score in the first quarter of Friday’s game, but found the basket in the second quarter.
Union took a 13-4 lead to the intermission. Owensville rallied in the third quarter and cut Union’s lead to one point, 20-19.
Union received a big rebounding effort, pulling down 28 boards. Of that, 23 came on the defensive end.
Senior Brandon Ford led the Wildcats with nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Ziegler netted nine points with eight rebounds and two assists.
Vitt closed the game with five points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal.
Junior Brian Borgmann scored four points with three rebounds and an assist.
Sophomore Blake Hulsey scored four points and added one rebound and one steal.
Senior Ashton Dehn recorded four rebounds and two steals.
Also playing was junior Dylan Small.
Cole Farris led Owensville with 10 points, all scored in the second half.
Tanner Goodman scored six points in the second half.
Drew Garner added five points while Dalton Littrell scored two and Nathan Smith ended with one point.
Union led 14-9 after one quarter and 24-15 at the half.
But Whitfield rallied in the second half. The Warriors outscored Union in the third quarter, 21-10, to go ahead, 36-34. The Warriors continued to dominate the second half with a 23-13 fourth quarter.
Ford led the Wildcats with 12 points while adding six rebounds and an assist.
Ziegler had 11 points.
five assists and two rebounds.
Other Wildcats in the scoring column were Borgmann with nine points, Hulsey with six, Vitt with five and Kory Lucas with two points.