RICHMOND - Union Local stayed unbeaten Friday thanks to a late fourth quarter scoring spurt.
Down 44-40 with less than three to play, the Jets reeled off eight straight and escaped with a hard-fought 48-45 victory over Edison before a large and loud crowd inside the Wildcats' gymnasium.
"That's the way it is in the Buckeye 8," a relieved Ben Porter said after the thrilling triumph. "We may be 14-0 but every game we've played has been challenging. There are no gimme games and that's what we expect."
The Jets, thanks to five points from big man Colton McKivitz and four from Gavin Porter, led 14-13 after one. It was 24-22 UL at halftime. There were nine lead changes in the opening half.
The third quarter was another back-and-forth affair (five ties and four lead changes). Edison went up 36-34 when Erik Lee swished a jumper in the lane at the buzzer. Senior Dylan Jones came up huge for the Wildcats during the third, knocking down eight of his team-leading 14 points.
Jones scored off a Lee assist to knot the count at 30 then put the hosts up when he got a jumper in traffic. He and Union Local's Kaleb McDiffitt exchanged buckets to make it 34-34.
The senior opened the fourth by scoring after an offensive rebound and Edison led 38-34. Nate Moses' patient Wildcats increased their advantage to 44-40 on a Skylar Wilkin drive to the bucket. That, unfortunately for Edison, was when McDiffitt and company went to work.
McDiffitt, just a sophomore, made it 44-42, scoring off a nice move to the bucket. McKivitz got a hoop from the paint then McDiffitt went strong to the hole again and Union Local led 46-44. Trenton Tipton's deuce capped the decisive Jets rally.
"He (McDiffitt) really stepped up for us in the fourth quarter," Porter stated. "Good players make plays at the end of a game. We're confident with him having the ball in his hands and making a decision.
Tipton paced Union Local, which defeated Edison 63-49 earlier in the season, with 12 markers. Gavin Porter added 11, nine coming in the opening half. McDiffitt scored his 10 after the break.
"It was a great high school basketball game," Moses said. "It was just a great atmosphere. Our student section came and our community came. It was a good game between two pretty good teams. Our kids played hard.
"We preach patience. Offensively, we wanted to get their big guys out of the lane a little, be patient and get good shots. For the most part, we were successful."
Bryce Piatt came off the Edison bench and scored nine to support Jones' effort.
The freshman got five of his tallies in the opening frame. Lee contributed seven and paced the Wildcats with six rebounds.
UNION LOCAL (48) - McDiffitt 5 0-0 10; T. Tipton 4 2-2 12; Dunfee 1 0-0 2; Porter 4 2-3 11; C. Tipton 0 0-0 0; Paulick 3 0-0 6; McKivitz 3 1-4 7. EDISON (45) - Jones 7 0-0 14; Lee 2 3-4 7; Allese 1 0-3 2; Piatt 3 2-2 9; Woika 2 0-0 4; Wilkin 1 2-2 4; Horan 1 2-2 5. TOTALS: 17 9-13 45 72.
3-pointers: T. Tipton 2, Porter; Piatt, Horan.