A stellar season for the No. 7 seeded Union Spartans came to a close Monday night in the opening round of the state playoffs thanks to a strong effort by the No. 10 seeded Pamlico Hurricanes, who blew into Spartan country and walked way with a 80-56 win.
Union and Pamlico both played well offensively in the first quarter. Brandon Lovette was knocking down shots early for the Spartans, as he hit two 3-pointers and scored 8 points in the opening period. Pamlico’s guards were connecting from deep as well though, and the Hurricanes led 17-16 after the first.
Pamlico used good inside position in the second quarter, and scored 8 second chance points in that frame alone. Pamlico had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, which made it difficult for Union to even stay in the game. Justin Smith’s 6 points in the quarter, another triple from Lovette, and a Natrone Banks lay-up with just 2 seconds left in the opening period allowed Union to trail by only 7 points, 36-29, going into the halftime locker room.
In the third quarter, the Hurricanes began to spread the floor and take the Spartans off the dribble. Lovette scored 7 more points in the third for Union, but the Hurricanes seemed to be to quick for the Spartans to handle defensively. By the end of the third quarter, Pamlico led 58-45.
Union scored the first two buckets of the fourth quarter on lay-ups by Banks and Justin Smith. However, following these baskets, Union would go on a scoring drought of nearly four and a half minutes from the 6:57 mark to the 2:35 mark in the fourth quarter. During this drought for Union, Pamlico’s guards were getting into the lane and either dishing the ball off to their post players for lay-ups, or laying it in themselves. If Pamlico couldn’t get to the basket in the fourth, they would knock down a 3-pointer. The Hurricanes shot over 60 percent in the fourth quarter, and grabbed 23 offensive rebounds for the game to upset the higher seeded and home team Spartans in impressive fashion, 80-56.
“Well we had a good season,” said Union head coach Tim Pope. “Second in the conference and second in the conference tournament, and whenever you’re playing this time of the year, all of the teams are good. We had a tough match-up tonight and those guys were just too quick for us to stay in front of. Justin Smith played a great game, that’s a great way for him to go out, and I’m proud of our team this season. We have Brandon Lovette and Desmond (Faison) coming back, and this year is something we can build on.
Banks had 15 points and 5 assists for Union. Lovette led the Spartans with 18 points, shooting 4 for7 from behind the arc. In Justin Smith’s last high school basketball game, he had 14 points and 14 rebounds.