Holding on Friday in Four Rivers Conference action, the Union basketball Wildcats defeated New Haven, 53-45.
The Wildcats (7-13, 2-1) played again Saturday, losing to Jefferson City in the Helias Shootout, 58-29.
Union jumped out to a huge early lead against the Shamrocks (6-15, 0-3) and led 20-9 after one quarter. Union was up 34-17 at the half.
“I was really pleased with the way we played in the first half,” Union Head Coach Chris Simmons said. “We really defended well and forced tough shots throughout. Our guys really executed the gameplan as we had practiced. It was great to start out that way for our seniors. With it being senior night, Blake DIckinson and Derek Foster started and gave us great minutes. They set the tone defensively for us the whole night. Offensively, we did a really good job of being patient and getting our shots.”
Union led 40-19 before the Shamrocks scored the next 10 points. Union led 43-29 after three quarters and pushed back into the game in the fourth quarter.
“The second half, New Haven was able to get much higher percentage shots and they shot it well,” Simmons said. “On the other end, we had some shooting turnovers that created easy and quick opportunities for New Haven on the other end. Coach (Aaron) Peirick and his team deserve a lot of credit. They kept plugging away, one possession at a time and they put themselves in position to have a chance at the end. We have to do a better job of consistently doing what we do no matter the score and finishing opponents off. Instead we got away from what we wanted to do and we gave them hope and they took advantage of it.”
Trevor Kelly led the Union scoring effort with 19 points. He also had seven rebounds and five assists.
Jacob Towell ended with 12 points, two rebounds and an assist.
Chase Mehler also reached double digits with 10 points. He also had two assists and two rebounds.
Kale Crawford added eight points and three rebounds.
Blake Dickinson was the highest-scoring senior with three points. He also had five rebounds.
Mason Bailey played in the fourth quarter and scored a point.
Peyton Burke had three assists and a rebound. Caleb Mabe had three rebounds and an assist. Senior Derek Foster ended with one assist and a rebound.
New Haven hit six three-point shots on the night.
Ethan Groner sank three of them and ended with 11 points.
Abe Madden put in two three-point shots for his six points. Kyle Brumels hit one and ended with three points.
John Fleer was New Haven’s top inside threat with nine points.
Trent Kormeier came off the bench to score seven points. Joseph Rethemeyer ended with six, Martin Lewis had two and Jay Eichelberger added one point.
Fleer pulled down eight rebounds. Kormeier ended with four while Madden, Brumels and Rethemeyer each had two. Lewis added one rebound.
Lewis had five assists, Groner ended with three and Brumels and Eichelberger posted one assist apiece.
Madden, Lewis and Fleer each had one steal.
Union hit the road to play in the Central Bank Shootout at Helias Saturday against the Jefferson City Jays.
Jefferson City led 17-11 after one quarter and 28-17 at the half.
“We played pretty well in the first quarter and then we got away from what we want to do,” Simmons said. “They sped us up in the second quarter and with their personnel, we did not want to play fast. They turned it into easy baskets and we in turn did not, so in turn we went into the half down 10.”
Simmons indicated the Wildcats got inpatient in the second half.
“After the half, we tried to get it all back and continued to take quick shots,” Simmons said. “We shot the ball really poorly and turned it over way too much. We just looked a step slow as the game wore on. A lot of our problems were self inflicted. Also, Their size really hurt us inside. We did not do a very good job of guarding it or blocking out against it so they ended up with a lot more chances than we did to score. That is not recipe for success.”
Kelly led the way with 14 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Crawford netted 11 points and added two rebounds.
Mabe and Dickinson each scored two points. Mabe also had three rebounds while Dickinson had one rebound.
Burke pulled down five rebounds with three assists. Towell had two rebounds and an assist. Foster had one assist and one rebound. Bailey added an assist.
“We must recognize who we are and what we are best at,” Simmons said. “When we do those things, we are a tough out. But, when we try to do things that are out of our character, the results have not favorable for us. We must recognize this and begin to buy into who we are. This was a tough game, but I do think a lot of things were reinforced about who we are and what will make us successful.”
Simmons feels Union will learn from the loss and bounce back.
“We have a great group of kids,” he said. “They want to win and they show up every day to practice hard. We will get back to what we do and prepare for Sullivan on Tuesday.”