While the Union boys basketball Wildcats didn’t win any games during the Branson Battle at the Border Tournament, Head Coach Chris Simmons saw many positives.

“It was a great trip,” Simmons said. “It was a great opportunity for our team to get to know each other and spend a lot of time together. We are young and so there are never enough growing opportunities for us.  It was fun and we got a whole lot better. I think the biggest thing is that we learned more about who we are and what our identity as a team must be.”

Union (0-5) lost Friday to Lake Hamilton, Ark., 73-31, and Saturday to Bolivar, 51-48.

In Friday’s loss to Lake Hamilton, Simmons said the team played a lackluster game.

“It seemed as though nobody showed up to play,” Simmons said. “We started out with no intensity and the score went bad very quickly. We allowed them to get in the paint early so they shot a very high percentage and the ones they missed, they were right there to rebound and score. With our lack of size, we really have to keep it out of the paint to give our selves a chance to keep teams to one and done and we were unable to do that.”

Simmons said Lake Hamilton defied the scouting as well.

“They hit some outside shots that they had not hit the night before, which allowed them to get going early,” Simmons said. “It was a learning experience for a lot of kids. Some kids took advantage of the opportunity to play more minutes in a blowout to show us what they are capable of. We left the game using it as a learning tool.  Using it as an opportunity to see what we are made of when facing embarrassment and adversity.”

Trevor Kelly led the team in scoring with 12 points. Derek Foster was next with six while Blake Dickinson scored five points. Chase Mehler, Kale Crawford, Wil Strubberg and Peyton Burke scored two points apiece.

Union came closer to pulling out a win in the final game of the trip against Bolivar, but lost 51-48.

“We showed some courage as we came out and put to use the learning experience from the night before,” Simmons said. “We were patient and shot great shots all night. We played great help defense all night and battled on the glass throughout against a much bigger team. Despite the loss, I could not have been more pleased with our effort.  That effort will be very successful over the course of a season.” 

Simmons indicated the Wildcats played a much better game.

“We played smart basketball all night with good shots, early help, ball movement, etc. — all things that were present Saturday,” Simmons said. “We played as a team and therefore gave ourselves a chance to win. We had a chance to tie the game twice and missed, but we did the things that we needed to be there against a very good team.”

Kelly again led the way with 19 points. Crawford was next with 14 while Caleb Mabe netted eight, Burke scored five and Foster chipped in with two.

The Wildcats return to action next Tuesday, visiting Pacific to open Four Rivers Conference play.