Jets soar in opener
BARNESVILLE – It’s not very often that a basketball coach has nothing bad to say about his team after its season debut.
That’s good though for Ben Porter in his return to the Union Local boys’ bench.
The Jets came out clicking on all cylinders Tuesday night here in soaring past the host Shamrocks by an 87-63 margin before a jammed-packed Greenhouse in western Belmont County.
“We had a goal to shoot 40 percent (from the floor) and a goal to get four players in double figures (scoring),” Porter offered. “I think we accomplished both.”
Indeed it did. In fact, Union Local shot just over 50 percent (31-60) and had four starters score 10-or-more points and a fifth wind up with nine.
“I’m very pleased with the way we played,” Porter, who made his return to courtside after a 2-year absence, said. “I thought we played well in transition; shot the ball really well; and rebounded the ball really well.”
Juniors Trenton Tipton and Gavin Porter evenly divided 46 points, with Porter draining all 12 of his free throw opportunities. Colton McKivitz, a 6-7 junior, added 14 points and senior Eric Dunfee chipped in 10. Sophomore point guard Kaleb McDiffit narrowly missed twin figures with nine.
“But how many times did he dish the ball off when he could have shot it?” Porter asked. “That’s his job as the point guard … to distribute the ball and he did a good job of that.”
Leading 36-25 at the half on the strength of 12 first-half points by Tipton, the Jets gassed up for 34 points in the third quarter alone to fly away to 70-41 advantage after three quarters and flew on auto pilot for much of the fourth quarter.
“Someone asked me the other day why basketball is so low-scoring these days,” Porter recalled. “I told him that we’re trying to not make it that.”
Barnesville head coach Chris Pack became a believer of the Jets.
“We ended up playing their style of basketball the entire game, so hopefully we learned something,” he said. “We are not a run-and-gun basketball team. We’re, hopefully, the team that played the first three or four minutes of the game. If we can play that kind of basketball and that kind of defense, we can be competitive night-in and night-out. But, if we can’t, we’ll take more beatings down the road.”
The taller and more athletic Jets held a commanding 51-29 advantage off the boards as 6-4 senior Cody Tipton ripped down a game-high 10 off the bench. David Paulick, a 6-4 sophomore banger, came off the bench to grab eight boards, while McDiffit landed eight to go along with five assists and a pair of steals. Trenton Tipton contributed half-a-dozen assists, four steals and three boards, while Gavin Porter charted five rebounds, a like number of assists and three steals.
Brian Clark and Isaac McGee each scored 17 points for the Shamrocks. David Stewart added a dozen. Clark and Eric Nicholson each had five rebounds.
The Jets are at Buckeye Local Friday, while Barnesville travels to undefeated Bridgeport the same night.
UL also won the JV game.
Union Local 87, Barnesville 63
UNION LOCAL (87) – McDiffit 4 1-2 9; Porter 4 12-12 23; T. Tipton 8 5-6 23; Dunfee 4 1-2 10; McKivitz 7 0-0 14; Paulick 2 0-2 4; C. Tipton 1 0-0 2; Causby 1 0-0 2; Bernheimer 0 0-0 0; Turner 0 0-0 0; Abboud 0 0-0 0; Ware 0 0-0 0; Totals: 31-60 19-24. BARNESVILLE (63) – Nicholson 1 2-2 4; Clark 5 7-13 17; Stewart 5 1-4 11; McGee 5 5-11 17; Z. Houston 2 2-2 6; Wells 1 0-2 2; Hannahs 2 0-0 5; Kernen 0 0-0 0; B. Houston 0 0-0 0; Totals: 21-50 17-34.
Three-Point Goals: Union Local 6 (Porter 3, T. Tipton 2, Dunfee); Barnesville 4 (McGee 2, Stewart, Hannahs)