For the third consecutive year, the Union basketball Lady ’Cats will play for the championship of the Orchard Farm Tournament.
Union (3-1) advanced to the championship game by drubbing host Orchard Farm in the semifinals Wednesday night, 62-28.
The Lady ’Cats will face a familiar foe in the title contest.
For the third year in a row, Union will face St. Charles (3-0). Each squad has won the title once in the past two seasons.
“We have limit the touches and scoring chances of their leading scorers 6-0 Olivia Hollander (14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds per game) and 6-0 Gabby Walker (16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds per game),” said Union Head Coach Grant Young. “St. Charles offense focusses on pounding it inside so it’s a must we make their guards beat us not the inside game. If we can keep them off the boards and get into our transition we can be successful.”
St. Charles defeated Lift for Life in the first round Monday, 57-15, and Granite City in the semifinal Wednesday, 55-31.
Friday night’s championship contest tips off at 8 p.m. at the Orchard Farm Performance Center.
Union never allowed the host Lady Eagles to gain any momentum in Wednesday’s semifinals, rolling out to an 18-2 lead through much of the first quarter.
Senior Alyssa Coons ran the offense, scoring 10 points and adding two assists on Union’s first six baskets.
“Alyssa really started us out with a spark,” Young said. “She had our first 10 points and gave us a 10-2 lead. That lead really got the first quarter going. I’m glad she had a breakout game. I know that will help us carry over to the championship game.”
Coons ended the game with 20 points to lead all scorers. She hit a pair of three-point baskets and added seven assists, five steals and two rebounds to her scoring effort.
Orchard Farm picked up two baskets near the end of the period, but senior Abbie Brack hit a three to make it 21-6 after eight minutes of action.
Brack closed the game with four points, three assists, two steals and one rebound.
Orchard Farm actually outscored Union in the second quarter, but couldn’t make a significant slice into Union’s lead. Union held a 35-21 advantage at the end of the quarter.
“We still got good looks but Casey Mann hit two big threes and Meghan Boschert had another for Orchard Farm,” Young said. “Orchard Farm made shots to spread our matchup during the quarter.”
Union had some anxious moments after senior Rachael Bassett was undercut while going for an offensive rebound. Down for a couple of minutes and checked out by the trainer on site, Bassett was able to return for the start of the second half.
Bassett closed the game with eight points, seven rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal.
Union continued the onslaught in the third quarter, rolling to a 16-4 run. Union led 51-25 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Union continue to widen the lead, outscoring the host team, 11-2, to win, 62-28.
“Adjustments and intensity defensively gave us a strong second half,” Young said. “We only allowed six points the second half credit to are pressure and defensive rebounding half court. Are quickness and pace wears on teams and I feel we wore them down by the end of the third.”
Union forced 16 turnovers in the game, and many appeared to be in the key time early in the game.
Union had all eight players score in the game.
Whitney Vitt just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. She added four assists, two blocked shots and two steals.
Anna Houston closed out the game with eight points. She pulled down two rebounds and added a steal.
Bethany Coons ended up with seven points while adding six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Jill Johnston scored four points with two rebounds.
And Briana Lakebrink scored twice with three rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Mann, a junior, led Orchard Farm with 10 points. She hit the team’s only two three-point baskets and added one assist and one rebound.
Boschert scored six points while Allison Little and Brooke Semke each added four and Emily Echele and Rachel Knobbe scored two points apiece.
Little and Semke each tulled down six rebounds while Echele had five.
Also playing were Brittany Boyer, Grace Schroeder and Carly Swisher.