Union’s boys scored basketball gold Tuesday night, defeating one of the Tri-County Conference’s top team and doing it on James Kenan’s home turf. The 44-39 win was a good one for the Spartans, coach Tim Pope said after the game.
“It was a road win; it was a conference win and we did it at James Kenan. It was a really good night for us,” the head coach stressed.
Defense, Pope said, was the key to the win. “I thought we played really strong defense all night, but particularly in the second half. We held them to 15 points in those last two quarters.”
That, coupled with the momentum the team had built since competing head-to-head with 2A Clinton last Friday night, gave the Union boys the confidence they needed to walk into Tiger country and play competitively.
“We’ve been trying to get better with every game, and I think we are getting better. Tonight we played with intensity and determination,” Pope stressed.
Union took the lead in the first quarter at 11-6, but the Tigers roared back before the half, taking a slim 24-21 lead into the half.
When the Spartans returned after the break, they turned on the defense, scoring 13 more points in the third period and holding the Tigers to 9 and then adding 11 more in the final frame but allowing Kenan to score only 6.
“Then in the last three minutes we made some really smart decisions,” Pope said, adding that Brandon Lovette made too big buckets during that three minutes to seal the victory.
Lovette finished the night with 11 points. Natrone Banks added 10; Demarious Davis, 6; Desmond Faison, 5 and Bakeem Murphy, 5.
The win moves Union’s record to 2-4 overall and 1-0 in the conference. They travel to North Duplin tonight for a non-conference game.