Union’s men squeaked by their day one opponent, the Falls Lake Academy Firebirds, in the North Johnston Christmas basketball tournament on Wednesday. Holding on to win by three, 48-45, they’ll move on to the championship game.
The Spartans won this game thanks to their first half play, commanding both quarters before being outplayed by the Firebirds in the second half.
Gaining a five-point lead in the first quarter, Union set the tempo and pace of the game early, going for 15 points with Falls Lake being allowed only 10 in the first eight-minute period.
In the second is when they started to build a gap between them and the Firebirds. They added another 12 points to their lead, scoring double what Falls Lake was able to get as they only went for six. This closed out the first half with Union ahead big 27-16.
Coming out of the halftime break is when things started drifting away from the Spartans in favor of Falls Lake where the Firebirds were the better team.
It started in the third when Falls went for 16 scoring the same amount they did in the entire first half in just the third period. Meanwhile Union had its worst offensive quarter of the night in the third only hitting 10, but still managed to have the lead despite, at 37-32.
Then in the fourth, Union was able to do just enough to hold off Falls and take the close win. Tacking on one more in this quarter with 11 points, the Firebirds still edged them with 13 of their own. Fortunately it wasn’t enough as the first half lead was to big a margin for Falls to overcome in the end.
The Spartans also didn’t shoot particularly well going for 19-of-53, for 36 percent from the floor. Where they really dominated was off the glass, out-rebounding the opposition with 40 total rebounds to just 25 for Falls Lake.
Derrick Smith was the leading scorer with 15. Jaevion Vann was next in line with 13, Tyler Murphy added 10, Matthew Ballance had six and Paris Baker ended with four.
The Spartans now sit at 3-6 overall and 2-1 in conference. They were set to face Durham School of Arts on Thursday to decide the champion of the North Johnston Christmas tournament.
Reach Michael Hardison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.