Everyone knows New Haven is one of the toughest places in the Four Rivers Conference to play.
That was something which concerned Union boys basketball Head Coach Chris Simmons, but his Wildcats were able to pull out a 63-44 FRC victory Friday night.
Union improved to 11-7 overall while staying perfect in the FRC at 3-0.
Simmons said his team made adjustments in the second half and that led the way to the win.
“I was very pleased with the way we played in the second half of the game,” Simmons said. “We really made a conscious effort to go inside and use our size. Kale (Crawford) and Wil (Strubberg) did a great job of creating great post position and then finished at the rim and made good decisions all night. I was proud of our guards for sticking to the game plan and getting the ball inside. We shot such a high percentage that we did not have to live or die by the three.”
New Haven dropped to 12-8 overall, 1-2 in the FRC.
“Union is a good basketball team, I have to give them a lot of credit,” New Haven Head Coach Aaron Peirick said. “We just have to keep moving forward and be better the next time out.”
Union led 16-12 after one quarter, 32-27 at the half and 45-36 through three quarters.
New Haven led briefly in the second half.
“Offensively we just went absolutely cold midway through the third quarter,” Peirick said. “We took a lead at 36-34 and then went a very long time without scoring again. It wasn’t that we didn’t get shots we wanted, its that the ball just didn’t go down. While we couldn’t make anything, they were having a pretty easy time scoring points.”
Besides picking up the offensive side, Simmons was pleased with his team’s defensive effort in the second half. Union clamped down on the outside shots, something New Haven excelled at during the opening half.
“Our perimeter defense was much better in the second half as well,” Simmons said. “We did a much better job of locating shooters and taking away the three-point shot and then finishing possessions by crashing the defensive glass hard.”
Peirick praised his team’s effort.
“Our kids played hard,” Peirick said. “I don’t think we played that bad. We had some problems for sure but we lost to a good team. We had a few issues on defense that allowed them some easy buckets in the post.”
Trevor Kelly led the Wildcats with 24 points, five assists, three rebounds and one steal.
“Trevor did a tremendous job of pushing the ball all night and then made good decisions when it came to shot selection out of that push,” said Simmons. “He scored 24 points and didn’t take a bad shot all night. He played really well within the flow of the offense and kept everyone involved. He was a great floor general tonight.”
Strubberg and Crawford each scored 12 points. Strubberg also had seven rebounds, one assist and a steal. Crawford added four rebounds and two assists.
Peyton Burke scored seven points and added three rebounds, two steals and one assist. Jacob Towell had five points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
“Our guards did a great job of impacting the game by doing things other than scoring,” Simmons said. “JT, Trevor, and Peyton combined for nine rebounds and 11 assists which showed some maturity on their part to continue to do the things that were working and not get worried about their points or shots.”
Chase Mehler added three points and one rebound. Mason Bailey recorded three assists and two rebounds.
“We also got really, really good minutes from Mason Bailey and Chase Mehler,” Simmons said. “They have stepped up and have created a rotation that is successful.”
Simmons said New Haven was a tough opponent. Luke Gerlemann hit multiple three-point shots in the first quarter and New Haven found other ways to keep the game close.
“Coach Peirick did a great job and put his team in a great position to win,” Simmons said. “They came out and made shots and got the ball to dangerous spots which forced us to adjust. I felt like our kids made good adjustments throughout the night.”
Gerlemann led the Shamrocks with 14 points, including three of the team’s seven three-point baskets. He also had six rebounds and two assists.
Joseph Rethemeyer finished with six points, one assist, one steal, one rebound and one blocked shot.
Ethan Groner scored six points with four rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Martin Lewis hit a pair of three-point baskets for his six points. He also had five rebounds and four assists.
Jay Eichelberger netted five points with three assists and two rebounds.
Trent Kormeier posted four points and one rebound. He also took a charge.
Christian Paterson added two points and one rebound.
“They are hard to guard as a team and Kelly and Strubberg especially are handfuls,” Peirick said. “I liked the way we moved the basketball on offense and we got good opportunities, just didn’t make enough of them. I wish we could have handled the ball a little better, too.”