Playing in its first tournament of the season, the Union basketball Wildcats will get the chance to play for some hardware Friday.
Union (1-3) knocked off Wright City Thursday, 58-46, in the consolation semifinals of the Bank of Old Monroe Tip Off Classic, to advance to the consolation championship against North County Tech at 5 p.m. Friday.
The win was the first at Union for Head Coach Christopher Simmons.
“It was an ugly game but the kids came out and played tough defense in the second half and caused a bunch of turnovers,” Simmons said. “I really liked how we pounded inside but we still did not execute the way we are going to need to.”
Union jumped out to a 12-4 lead over the Wright City Wildcats in the first quarter. Wright City bounced back to tie it at 23-23 at the intermission.
In the third quarter, Union outscored Wright City, 20-15, to take a 43-38 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Two Wildcats hit double digits in the game. Brandon Ford played for the first time this season and netted 15 points while adding 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.
“Getting Brandon back was a huge lift, but we are going to have to play much better Friday night against an athletic North County team,” Simmons said.
Nick Ziegler also scored 15 points.
Brian Borgmann posted eight points.
Blake Hulsey ended with seven points while TJ Vitt scored six, Ashton Dehn netted five and Kevin Curran added two.
Also playing was Dylan Small.
Union took advantage of free-throw situations, going 20-32 from the stripe. Wright City went 4-14.
The Wildcats from Warren County were led by Austin Meine’s 15 points.
Cody Klemp and Kyle Terny each scored nine points while Austin Marsh scored seven points, Jensen Elrod closed with four and Justin Wade added two points.
Also playing were Richard Liddell, Bret Noble and Christian Thompson.
Outscored by a 30-17 margin in the second and fourth quarters, the Wildcats lost their opener at Winfield Tuesday to O’Fallon Christian, 62-49.
“I really felt as though we should have had a chance to win the game but when you turn the ball over 19 times in any sport, it’s tough to win,” Simmons said.
Union opened the game with a strong first quarter, holding within two of Christian, 17-15.
“We were very patient in the first quarter but weren’t as patient in the second which didn’t help either,” Simmons said. “We have a lot of talent but we have to learn how precious each possession is.”
Christian jumped out to take a 33-25 lead at the intermission. Union cut it down to 48-42 after three quarters, but couldn’t continue the momentum through the fourth quarter.
Three Wildcats reached double digits in the game. Ziegler led the Wildcats with 15 points and added three rebounds.
Vitt scored 11 points with four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
And Hulsey scored 10 points with five rebounds.
Dehn was next with seven points and he led the team with nine rebounds.
Drew Heyer and Small each scored three points. Heyer had two rebounds while Small pulled down three boards.
Borgmann played and had one rebound and one blocked shot.
Curran pulled down two rebounds.
“We definitely improved but still have a long way to go,” Simmons said. “We look forward to Thursday night to come out and improve again.”
Lance Lehmann led the Eagles with 17 points while adding five rebounds.
Kameron Dunlap scored nine points with eight rebounds. Evan Marcks and Deantrell Prince each scored eight points.
Jordan Norwine scored seven points while Jamie Briggs added six, Frank Davis contributed four points and nine rebounds and Jackson Rodgers posted three points.