Jumping out to a huge lead, the Union basketball Lady ’Cats captured consolation honors at their own basketball tournament Saturday against Washington, 44-37.
While Union (11-4) scored early, building up a 22-7 lead with over five minutes to play in the second quarter, Washington (6-6) fought back and cut the final margin down to seven points.
“It was good jumping on them early in the first quarter,” Union Head Coach Grant Young said. “It was good that our kids came out and persevered early. We knew they would come back. Those kids would run through a wall for Coach (Adam) Fischer. They’ve really improved from last year. He’s got a good group and he’s doing a good job with them.”
Washington Head Coach Adam Fischer lauded his team’s effort in coming back.
“We dug ourselves a big hole to start the game against Union,” Fischer said. “At one point early in the second quarter, we were down 22-7, and we didn’t have a lot of things going right for us. We talked at one of the timeouts about getting more aggressive on the defensive end of the floor and that aggressiveness seemed to carry over on the offensive side too. Our team never quit at that point and mid way through the third quarter we found ourselves only down five, but we never could get over the hump and cut into the lead more.”
Washington’s strong effort in the paint made it very difficult for Union to score near the basket, but Union senior Rachael Bassett persevered and finally earned her 1,000th career point with 4:46 to play in the game.
“Coach Fischer is doing a great job,” Young said. “They’re very long. Rachael had a tough time finding easy shots because they’re so tall and so long in that 1-2-2 zone.”
According to Union records, Bassett became just the fifth Lady ’Cats player to reach the 1,000-point milestone, joining Gayle Klenke (1,464), Kelly Weirich (1,185), Beth Thater (1,172) and Stephanie Thater (1,098) in that club.
“Congratulations to Bassett for scoring her 1,000th point,” Fischer said. “She is an excellent ballplayer and has worked hard to achieve that goal.”
Both teams had players selected to the all-tournament team. Union was represented by senior Alyssa Coons while Washington junior Courtney Kedroski represented the Lady Jays.
Union hit seven three-point baskets in the game and that was a key in how the Lady ’Cats built up the lead.
“The good thing is that we hit some big shots,” Young said. “Whitney (Vitt), Alyssa (Coons) and Abbie (Brack) hit some big three pointers. We made seven for the game.”
Coons buried four of those three-point baskets and ended the game with 14 points.
Senior Whitney Vitt ended the game with nine points while hitting two three-point baskets.
Sophomore Bethany Coons netted eight points.
Senior Abbie Brack scored seven points and hit one three-point basket.
Bassett ended the game with six points.
Also playing for Union were Megan Altemueller, Anna Houston, Jill Johnston and Briana Lakebrink.
“Our kids come out and compete in every game,” Young said. “We play a tough schedule. We compete every game. We’ve just got to come out mentally focused every game because it’s a chess match with the teams in our area. You’ve got to execute at the right times to be able to win games.”
Washington ended with three three-point baskets, all by freshman Paige Carpenter. She led the Lady Jays with 12 points.
Senior Kaitlin Evans scored seven points.
Senior Kirstie Leslie ended the game with six points.
Junior Rachel Kackley scored four points.
Junior Courtney Kedroski scored three points. Junior Megan Bauche and sophomore Megan Freitag scored two points apiece. Junior Alex Ready closed with one point.
Also playing was senior Helena Ballmann.
Union jumped out with back-to-back three-point baskets by Vitt and Alyssa Coons midway through the third quarter. Union closed the quarter with another three to go up, 15-5.
Union opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run to go up, 22-7, with 5:19 to play in the half.
“As a coach, I knew they would come back slowly on us,” Young said. “They really tried to limit Rachael’s touches in the paint. Our guards stepped up and took care of the ball.”
But that served as a wake-up call for the Lady Jays, who responded by going on a 12-2 run of their own. A three-point basket by Alyssa Coons gave Union a 27-19 advantage at the break.
Washington got as close as five points in the third quarter, but Union again came up with clutch three-point baskets to maintain a lead. After three quarters, Union led 35-28.
Union sealed the victory in the fourth quarter, hitting enough free throws down the stretch to never be threatened.
“We stalled their late-game situation and made them go man,” Young said. “That helped us out so we could pull it apart a little bit and we got some easy buckets in the late-game situation.”