Racing away in the second half, Festus defeated the Union basketball Wildcats Monday in Union, 58-36.
“There are a lot of things we need to work on,” Union Head Coach Chris Simmons said. “I felt they out-hustled us in the third quarter. I think we got tired, but there’s no excuse. We don’t have a deep bench right now, but we’ve got to be mentally tough enough to block out and go get the ball.”
Simmons said the third quarter was the difference.
“In the first, second and fourth quarters, we hustled and dove for the loose balls,” he said. “In the third quarter, it went from 10 to 20 and they outworked us in every aspect.”
Union returns to action Tuesday, visiting Washington with the JV game starting at 6 p.m.
The Wildcats play in the Branson Tournament, a four-school round robin event, Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Union plays Branson Nov. 30 at 8:30 p.m.; Lake Hamilton, Ark., Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m.; and Bolivar Dec. 2 at 1:30 p.m.
In the Festus game, Union fell behind in the first quarter, 14-6. The game remained close in the second quarter before Festus scored the final six points of the half to lead 27-17 at the half.
The Tigers surged in the third quarter, outscoring Union by a 19-11 margin, to lead 46-28 going to the final quarter and put the game away in the final quarter.
For Union, it was a matter of struggling at the wrong times.
“Offensively, we dribbled way too much,” Simmons said. “The ball was not moving the way we needed to move it to be successful. We’re going to have to just hammer the pass. We didn’t hit shots tonight and that didn’t help. We shot too quickly after one or two passes around the perimeter.”
Union hit one of seven free-throw attempts in the game as well as committing unforced turnovers which took away other scoring chances.
“We’ve been working on slowing ourselves down,” Simmons said. “We got sped up tonight. We want to play fast, but we can’t play rushed and we got rushed tonight.”
The Wildcats did hit 13 two-point baskets and added three three-point shots.
Junior Trevor Kelly led the way with 11 points, but got into foul trouble later in the game.
Sophomore Chase Mehler scored six points while sophomore Peyton Burke and junior Kale Crawford each had five points.
Caleb Mabe, a sophomore, scored four points and drew praise from Simmons for his work around the basket.
“Caleb Mabe played excellent tonight,” Simmons said. “When he posted hard, we got it in there and some good things happened.”
Junior Jacob Towell ended with three points and senior Blake Dickinson scored two points.
Festus didn’t have the same trouble at the free-throw line, going 9-13 from the stripe. The Tigers hit seven three-point baskets and were able to overcome foul trouble in the first half.
“They shot the ball well,” said Simmons. “We knew that coming in.”
Festus was led by a pair of 18-point scorers. Daniel Portell and Owen Horsley tied for the scoring lead.
“We really focused on Portell,” Simmons said. “Peyton did a good job defending him. Peyton made him work for every point.”
Portell had four two-point baskets, a three-point shot and was 4-4 from the free-throw line.
Horsley scored 14 of his points in the second and third quarters. He hit four two-point shots, two three-point baskets and was 4-5 from the free-throw line.
Blake Holland was the other Festus player to reach double digits with 11 points. He hit a trio of three-point shots and one two-point basket.
Other Festus scorers were Brennan Pryor with four points, Aquille Mohammed, Savez Thomas and Zach Liles with two points each and Kobe Branscomb with one point.