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Union Local locks down Trail, 48-37

UNION LOCAL senior Nathan Meyer goes up to make a pass as Buckeye Trail’s Tyler Dodd defends during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Morristown.

MORRISTOWN — For the Union Local boys basketball team, 40 is the magic number.

There is signage in the Jets locker room about the number, its meaning and the mission, which is holding the opposition under that threshold.

Mission accomplished and with it came another victory.

Union Local made it three wins in four starts since its return from a two-week COVID-19 pause Tuesday evening with a 48-37 victory against invading Buckeye Trail.

“I think we’re now 76-4 in the school’s history when we hold a team under 40 points,” Delman said. “It’s a huge stat for us, so we’re always trying to accomplish that. We like our odds when we’re able to hold a team under 40.”

Outside of a first-quarter spurt in which the Warriors hit a 3-pointer on three consecutive possessions to take a 9-4 lead, the Jets were firmly in control from start to finish, basically.

“I thought we came out with good intensity,” Delman said. “Our intensity dropped when they hit some shots because we seemed like we took our foot off the gas.”

The accelerator was pushed down — especially on the defensive end — from that point forward.

“I was very happy with how we responded in the second and third quarters,” Delman said. “Those middle quarters were important for us defensively. I thought we did a nice job of making (Franko) Rome earn everything he got. All in all, I am happy with our effort.”

The Warriors were outscored 30-13 in the middle two quarters and that deficit was just simply too much to overcome.

“They made some adjustments (defensively) and it took us too long to respond and figure that out,” Trail head coach Drew Meister said. “We wanted to get more touches on the block, but it took us a while to get that going. Their pressure was effective and it cost us some turnovers and possessions.”

As the Jets opened a 19-point cushion at the final break, they did so with a balanced contribution. It was senior Andrew Martin’s turn, however. He scored 15 of his game-high 19 in the first half. Senior sharpshooter Luke Merritt tallied seven in the first and finished with 10 and senior Liam Vinskovich added nine points.

With a fairly comfortable 19-point lead and a shade over five minutes to play, Delman emptied his bench. There was no disciplinary measure of any type. It was simply Delman looking to use the opportunity to build depth as the Jets face what will resemble an NBA-looking schedule in terms of volume of games in the coming weeks.

“Sometimes you have to find ways to establish some depth,” Delman admitted. “As we get later in the season, we’re trying to find some guys who can give us some minutes here and there, and I thought (the fourth quarter) was an opportunity to get those guys a little taste of it. We knew Buckeye Trail wasn’t going to quit.”

The Warriors didn’t quit whatsoever. Rome kept firing and making. But the 11-point final verdict was as close as they could get. Delman admitted the first unit was going to re-enter if the lead dwindled into single digits.

As the Jets starters sat and watched the game’s final minutes, Delman admitted they were getting nervous as the Warriors inched closer to that aforementioned 40-point plateau.

“The group was adamant about getting back in to keep (Trail) under 40,” Delman said.

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