Union Local gets defensive vs. River
HANNIBAL — To go far in the postseason, Zach Delman knows his team’s defense needs to be purring like a finely-tuned engine.
Tuesday night inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium, Delman, Union Local’s head coach, was pleased with what he saw from his team in that regard.
The Jets held the Pilots to 22 first-half points and used its defense as a way to spark to its offense in a convincing 62-42 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“We wanted to get back to pressuring the basketball and using our defense to get back out on the break to get easy buckets,” said Delman, who expressed his disappointment in that area from his team in Saturday’s OVAC championship game loss to Fort Frye.
“All in all, I was happy with everyone from top to bottom for stepping in and playing their role and contributing,” Delman continued. “We got multiple efforts from a lot of guys. I was happy to see us recover.”
Luke Merritt scored 16 points and Matt Bateman had 13 as Union Local broke a 10-10 deadlock early in the second quarter with a 14-0 run the Pilots never recovered from.
The Jets led by as many as 29 early in the fourth before Delman cleared his bench, which finished out the contest that concluded with UL standing 16-6.
“Their pressure kind of got to us,” River head coach Mark Romick said. “They turned us over a few times there and they got on a run.
“Then what happens, too, is it speeds you up in your own head and you get to playing a little faster and you take some bad shots.”
UL’s pressure wrecked havoc on River’s offense, stymying any momentum it had during the first eight minutes.
The Jets went up 28-15 midway through the second, but the Pilots pulled to within single digits at the 4:35 mark. There, UL hit a cold spell offensively. But so did the Pilots. Then, UL scored eight straight to go up 36-19 as the game neared halftime.
“We’ve done that all year where we hit those stretches where we just don’t score,” Romick said. “We had it at nine then had five or six possessions and just couldn’t score.”
River (8-13) closed to within 14 at halftime, but a 12-0 Jets’ run to begin the third quarter put things out of reach.
“We talk about the first three minutes of the second half dictating the outcome of the game,” Delman said. “We thought it was important to come out and expand our lead and not let (River) come back.”
Nathan Meyer added 12 points for Union Local, which is off until next Tuesday night when it welcomes Buckeye Local for an Ohio Division III sectional contest.
River, led by Ty Long’s 16 points and Colton Lawrence’s 15, opens Division IV sectional play that night, too, visiting Strasburg. The Pilots’ regular-season contest vs. Bishop Ready, which was postponed February 8, will not be rescheduled.