Strong start helps propel Union Local past Bellaire

Photo/SHERI MCANINCH UNION Local’s Stuart White goes up for a shot Tuesday night against Bellaire.

BELLAIRE — Even though his team won its opener by 36 last Friday night, Union Local head coach Zach Delman wasn’t exactly pleased with his squad’s start against Steubenville Catholic.

He saw improvement Tuesday night — in a big way — as the Jets opened the Buckeye 8 portion of their slate.

UL jumped out to an 8-2 lead against debuting Bellaire, then stretched it to 16 by virtue of a 16-4 run en route to an impressive 62-36 boys’ prep basketball triumph inside the “House of Champions.”

“Last Friday, we didn’t score in the first four minutes,” Delman said. “(Tuesday), I thought we came out a played a little quicker and with a purpose and got some guys involved.”

The Big Reds closed the gap to 12-8 on a Cole Runyan jumper and, at that point, Delman called time. It was then that the Jets took off on the aforementioned spurt that, in essence, ended the game.

“We were just having some mental lapses,” he said. “When we have guys out there that aren’t as experienced varsity-wise, sometimes we get lost.

“We just wanted to correct mistakes and show them that, despite what’s on the scoreboard, we still have to do the right things.”

Cal Kildow scored 10 of his game-tying 18 points during the spurt, one of two that cemented UL’s victory.

The other came at the start of the second half — an 11-0 one that propelled a quarter in which the Big Reds only scored two points.

“I just think our lack of experience showed,” Bellaire head coach Ben Doyle said. “We’re going to go through these growing pains early in the season, but we’re climbing the hill together and we’re going to keep improving.”

The Big Reds struggled in many departments, one of which was rebounding. The Jets capitalized on numerous second-chance opportunities in the early going, including one by Stuart White, who’s bucket made the score 28-12 midway through the second.

“We keep second-chance points on the bench and at the end of the first half that number was just glaring (in their favor),” Doyle said. “They were getting way too many second-chance opportunities. We have to be able to put a body on somebody better than we did.”

White also finished with 18 points, while grabbing 14 boards. Not bad for kid who rarely saw the floor before this season as he served as Cody ray’s understudy, of sorts.

“He’s put in a lot of work and he’s a very strong kid,” Delman aid of the senior, who was slowed by a broken foot last season. “We’re happy about him. He’s playing very well.”

Elijah Baker added nine points for the Jets, who led by as many 33 in the fourth.

“We rebounded well,” Delman said, “but I was frustrated with our free throw percentage. We pride ourselves on being 70 percent or better and shooting (56.6) percent from the line is upsetting because we spend a lot of time on it.

“We just weren’t finishing. We were getting two shots instead of and-ones. We have to get stronger with the basketball.”

A.J. McCarthy’s 11 points led the Big Reds.

The Jets will look to make it three-for-three Friday night against another debuting squad — Martins Ferry — at “The Hangar.” Bellaire also returns to action Friday, visiting Harrison Central.