Red-hot Jets win seventh straight
BARNESVILLE — The atmosphere was unreal. The crowd was bonkers.
Add in the fact that Cade Hannahs — a Class of ’19 Barnesville High School graduate — returned to the school for the first time since a serious injury in November.
And, oh by the way, senior Luke Powell came into the game needing just 11 points to surpass the 2,000-point mark for his career.
None of that fazed Union Local, whatsoever.
The red-hot Jets overcame all of the above and a 3-point barrage from the Shamrocks to post a 92-76 victory for their seventh consecutive victory.
“One hundred percent of the credit goes to the kids,” a relieved UL head coach Zach Delman said. “We’ve been putting ourselves in a much better position to play the game because of the way we’ve been preparing. We weren’t doing that as well early in the season.”
Coming into the game, the Jets knew what kind of hornets’ nest they were walking into.
“We talked about preparation and poise,” Delman said. “The St. C. game (on Friday) gave us kind of an appetizer, so to speak, in terms of the atmosphere and crowd. We pointed out to the kids that they’ve played in big atmospheres in rivalry games before.”
The loss drops the Shamrocks to 10-3, entering a Friday night road trip to Hannibal to take on a River club they defeated in December.
“Union Local does a great job of executing,” Johnson said. “We’re falling in love with the 3-point line. We’re not in a good place right now (offensively) and we have to figure out what we need to do, and we will figure it out. Give all of the credit to UL because they took us entirely out of our game. We’re going through some little adversity, but we have time to get it fixed. It’ll either bring you together or tear you apart, so we’ll see what it does to us.”
The Jets watched Barnesville feed off the atmosphere, which included a near capacity crowd and fans who arrived hours before the jayvee game tipped, to take a 17-13 lead after one.
During that quarter, Powell scored 10 points, including a trio of deep 3-pointers. That left him one short of the illustrious 2,000-point mark.
With 6:42 to go in the half, Powell dialed another deep shot from the wing up, putting him over the mark and making him the 20th male from an OVAC member school to reach the barrier. He’s the second from Barnesville, joining his father and OVAC Hall of Famer Matt Powell.
“I am happy for Luke because of all of the work he puts in, but it’s still a shame we couldn’t pull out (a win) on the night when he scores his 2,000th point,” Johnson said.
Powell finished the first half with 21 points, but the Shamrocks looked up at a 38-34 deficit after Luke Merritt drained a corner 3 just before the buzzer for the Jets.
“Luke Powell is unbelievable and we knew we wouldn’t stop him, but we wanted to make him earn everything he got,” Delman said. “He was letting them rip (from deep), but that’s what they like to do.”
During the third quarter, when the Jets took control, Powell was scoreless. The Jets outscored the Shamrocks 19-16 in the quarter to take a 57-50 lead into the fourth.
Andrew Martin, who had a huge game last week against Martins Ferry, got going in the fourth. He scored 13 of his 18 in the period. He was complemented by senior Hunter McCort, who had 10 of his 17 in the fourth.
All told, the Jets hung 35 points on the board in the fourth, including a sharp 13-of-14 effort from the foul line.
“I thought our kids executed well against their press and their zone,” Delman said, pointing out his team had just nine turnovers. “I thought there were areas we could exploit.”
While the Jets put on a clinic in execution, the Shamrocks struggled beyond knocking down treys. They did drill 17 bonus goals, including 10 from Powell, who finished with a game high 35. His cousin, Kason Powell, hit five and finished with 21.
The continual settling for the 3-point shot is a concern for Johnson and his staff.
“We will not run a half-court offense, which goes back on me,” Johnson lamented. “We have to find a way to get our kids to execute in the halfcourt instead of standing and watching Luke play or at the 3-point line and hope something comes to us. We do have (sets) in, but you wouldn’t know it by watching us play.”
The Jets had only five players score in the game, but the fewest points scored were a solid 15 by Nathan Meyer. Merritt, who knocked in six 3-pointers of his own, finished with 26, while Zach Bateman added 16.
Union Local, which hasn’t lost since Dec. 17, plays host to Harrison Central on Friday.