Historically, New Haven’s gym is one of the tougher places for visiting teams to play.
However, that’s where the Union boys basketball Wildcats earned their first Four Rivers Conference win of the season, defeating the Shamrocks Friday, 74-61.
“We needed that win really bad,” Union Head Coach Chris Simmons said. “It’s tough playing here. I think they’re a really good team.”
Union improved to 9-10 overall, 1-1 in the Four Rivers Conference. New Haven dropped to 13-7, 0-3.
Four Union players reached double digits in the game.
Kaden Motley netted 20 points with three steals, two assists and two rebounds. He went 8-8 from the free-throw line.
Ryan Rapert was next with 15 points, four assists and two rebounds. He hit four of the team’s nine three-point baskets.
Nkosi Hanley and Matthew Seely both ended with 10 points. Hanley also had three rebounds. Seely had four rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Mason Bailey and Collin Gerdel both scored eight points. Bailey also had three assists, three rebounds and a steal. Gerdel had 10 rebounds with two assists.
Liam Hughes chipped in with two points and a rebound. Tanner Hall scored one point and added two assists.
Union went 9-13 from the free-throw line.
“Our kids really competed. I thought Mason Bailey played his rear end off all night long. Ryan Rapert played really well tonight. Collin anchored everything inside. I thought we executed really well.”
For New Haven, John Liggett led the way with 32 points. Liggett hit four of New Haven’s eight three-point baskets. He also was crowned the homecoming king prior to the game.
“Liggett is the real deal,” Simmons said. “He was on fire tonight.”
Zach Groner was next with 16 points.
Sam Scheer and Logan Williams both scored five points.
Jacob Engelbrecht added three points.
Additional New Haven statistics were not available at press time.
“This was a really big game for us,” Simmons said. “Coming into this game, we had been close, but we hadn’t gotten a really good win yet. I thought tonight we got a big one.”
The Wildcats came out on fire, moving out to an 8-2 lead before New Haven chipped back to cut it to 16-15 after one quarter.
“We played well early and got a lead,” Simmons said. “It’s a whole lot easier when you get a lead.”
The teams traded the lead in the second quarter before a pair of Seely free throws with 5.9 seconds to play tied it at the half, 35-35.
Bailey knocked down a three to start the third quarter and that sparked an 11-point Union run over the first 4:01 of the half. While New Haven stopped the run on Liggett’s fourth three-point basket of the game, the Shamrocks couldn’t cut the gap. Union led 55-44 after three quarters.
“I was proud of our kids because we executed the adjustments really well,” Simmons said. “Defensively, they didn’t get the same open looks they were getting in the first half. In the first half, they were getting wide-open horse shots and knocking them down. In the second half, we got a hand in their face a lot more and they didn’t shoot as well, other than Liggett.”