Union’s JV boys grew as a team Tuesday night in their 51-49 road win against Pender Tuesday night, according to their coach, and came away with not only a victory but a renewed sense of the fun of the game.
“I’m really proud of this group of guys,” said Spartan coach Bryant Register. “It was really see these guys out there playing their hearts out and having fun doing it.”
The JV Spartans played with great intensity in the opening quarter, taking the lead and holding onto it, up 11-9 after the frame ended.
But in the second quarter, the Union team had what Register called a breakdown in communication, giving Pender some room to get a run going, and the home team took a 28-21 lead into the half.
That run continued in the third quarter, with Union still lagging behind and finally down by double-digits. That’s when Register regrouped, taking out some of his starters and putting in a second group made up of Shyquan Brunson, Devin Henry, Alex Maxwell and JaVonte Henry.
“Those boys gave us a big boost about midway the third quarter. They picked up our spirits and we were able to close it to 4, at 37-33 at the end of the third quarter,” Register said.
In the fourth quarter, the game became a back-and-forth battle, with Register returning his starters to the floor. “They picked up on that intensity that the other guys had and maintained it.”
With less than a minute to go and the game knotted, Register thought the teams were headed to overtime. That’s when Pender regained possession and worked to run down the clock. The ball was lost out of bonds and Pender had another chance with just a few ticks remaining, but a lob pass failed.
With 1.5 seconds left, a Pender player threw the ball hard against the floor, picking up a technical foul and putting Union’s Christian Boykin at the charity stripe. He hit both foul shots to give Union the win.
“It was a really good game,” Register said. “I really believe we grew as a team tonight (Tuesday).”
Boykin led scoring for the Union JV with 15 points. Henry had 6; Traquan Peterson,6; Jamar Newkirk, 6; Maxwell, 6; Henry, 5; Jawan Newkirk, 5; and Brandon Johnson, 2.
The win moves Union’s JV record to 5-10 overall and 3-6 in conference play.
While Register said he was letting his guys savor the win Tuesday, it would be back to work over the next few days as the Spartans prepare to face county rival Hobbton on Friday. “Coach Hooper will have his guys ready; they are a good team and we’ve got to be prepared.”