It was a jam-packed day of basketball Monday at Union High, but each of the local teams lost to their contenders.
Host team Union fell to Goldsboro 69-38 in the first boys game of the MLK Jam.
Spartan varsity boys coach Tim Pope said he was pleased with his team’s effort despite the loss.
“The first three quarters were good. Natrona (Banks) played big for us. Goldsboro is just a well-coached team and they wore us down,”Pope said as he walked to the locker room after the game.
Both teams are athletic and quick, so it really came down to which team had the hot hand and allowed the least mistakes.
Union started the game sizzling at the net and had doubled the score, 14-7, with two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Cougars picked up the pace and gradually started adding points to the scoreboard as the Spartans’s hot hands cooled off.
With 2:31 left to go before the half, Goldsboro had tied the score at 21 and by halftime, the Cougars scored 10 to Union’s 4 points, 31-25.
By the end of the third quarter, Goldsboro pulled away and was leading by nine points, 44-35.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars caught fire and every shot seemed to fall through the hoop, while the Spartans couldn’t buy a basket. Banks was essentially shut down with a double team every time the ball went his way.
With five minutes left in the game, Goldsboro went on an 18-0 run and ended the game with the huge lead.
Desmond Faison was Union’s top scorer with 9 points, followed by Banks and Brandon Lovett, each with 8 points; Justin Smith, 7; and Damarius Davis, 6.
Clinton didn’t fare any better in their game against the Westover Wolverines. Clinton, a 2A team, got behind early against the 4A Wolves, and at the end of the first quarter the score was 11-6, with Westover leading.
By mid second quarter, the Wolves had tripled the score without the Dark Horses adding anything to it.
Clinton essentially had three teams that head coach Randy Jordan rotated in and out of the game. Later, he said he used that strategy to keep his team fresh for their conference game on Tuesday.
By halftime, the Horses were down 19 points, 33-14.
Clinton was able to find the basket and seemed to play with a greater intensity in the second half, but was unable to overcome their first half deficient. The final score was 58-41.
“First of all, we are honored to be a part of this event to honor one of the greatest American’s ever,” Coach Jordan said as his team walked toward the locker room.
Despite the loss, the Dark Horses are much better for the experience, according to their coach.
“We have two conference games this week. I felt like it was more important to keep these guys rested and healthy for our game against South Lenoir tomorrow. They are one game ahead of us in the conference,” he explained, adding, “We learned some lessons that you can’t teach at practice and some of our guys got some very valuable playing time. We were able to showcase ourselves tonight, but the conference is really what matters right now.”
Leading scorers for the Dark Horses were Demontio Bryant and Ryan Chester, each with 10 points — and Chester with two 3-pointers; Shian Bradshaw, 6 points; and Osharmaine Jones, 4.
The other two conference teams in the MLK Jam were Wallace-Rose Hill, leading the 1A Tri-County Conference, and 2A Topsail, a Dark Horse rival in the East Central conference.
This match-up went down to the wire despite Topsail only having seven players on their team.
The Bulldogs led for most of the first half and as the clock ticked down at halftime, Bulldog Jamal James threw up a prayer from the 3-point line at the other end of the court and swished the net. They went into the locker room up by 15 points, 37-22.
The second half the Pirates managed to creep back into it, and with 15 seconds left in the game, they had managed to come within 2 points, 55-53.
With just 13 seconds left in the game, Topsail fouled and W-RH Marcus Scarborough coolly sank two free throws to put the dogs up by 4 points.
Topsail raced back down court and sank a 3-pointer, but it was too little too late as time ran off the clock. The final was Wallace ahead 57-56.
The scores in the other three games were Jack Britt over Laney, 47-39; New Bern over 71st, 72-46; and Hoke over Hoggard, 69-57;