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First-Half Defense Helps Union Down Keystone

Saturday, February 6, 2016 @ 12:02 AM

Posted by Chris Rossetti

KNOX, Pa. (D9Sports) – Union used a strong defensive effort in the first half to built a 19-point halftime lead then held off a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Keystone to gain a 59-51 win in Knox Friday night.

The Golden Knights forced 11 first-half turnovers by the Panthers coming away with 10 steals and scored 13 points off those giveaways to take a 34-15 halftime lead.

“We pretty much made them panic when we trapped them,” Union sophomore Lucas Bowser, who had three of the first-half steals, said. “They forced the ball, and we got turnovers.”

Bowser, who finished with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds to go with his three thefts, scored 12 of his points in the opening half and shot 8 of 9 for the game.

Union still held a comfortable 15-point, 42-27, lead at the end of the third quarter, but Keystone started the fourth quarter on a 16-8 run thanks to eight points from Brayden Shick, who hit a pair of 3-pointers during the spurt, to get within seven, 50-43, with 2:28 left.

But Cole Morris, who had an all-around solid game with 14 points, eight assists, four steals and four rebounds, took over, hitting a pair of free throws to push the lead back to nine with 2:11 to play and then feeding Bowser for a layup with 1:44 to go that pretty much sealed the win.

“It makes it very easy (when Cole is dishing like that),” Bowser said. “Cole is the best ball handler I’ve seen, ever. I’ve played with a lot, and Cole is No. 1.”

Hank Murphy added 18 points for Union, which shot 50 percent (22 of 44) for the game including 56 percent (14 of 25) in the first half.

Austin Ion continued his run of solid play for Keystone with 17 points and seven rebounds. Tanner Wilson added 15 points, five rebounds and three assists and Shick ended with 10 points.

Union has now won five straight to move to 15-6 on the season and 11-4 in the KSAC South, a division they captured with a win over A-C Valley Tuesday. The Golden Knights hosts Moniteau on Senior Night Wednesday before facing Clarion-LImestone in the KSAC title game at 6 p.m. Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.

“We needed momentum going into the KSAC Championship game,” Bowser said of the recent Union surge. “Playing C-L is going to be tough.”

Keystone fell to 10-11 with the loss and 8-7 in the KSAC South. The Panthers must beat A-C Valley Wednesday on the road in order to reach .500 and go to the District 9 Class AA playoffs. Even though the postseason is an open tournament – anyone can enter regardless of record – the school has a strict .500 policy meaning it’s teams must be at least .500 to go to the playoffs.

By Chris Rossetti


Score by Quarters

Union 15 19 8 17 – 59

Keystone 5 10 12 24 – 51

UNION – 59

Hank Murphy 6-11 5-6 18, Sutton Varner 2-6 0-02 4, Cole Morris 5-12 2-5 14, Gavin Hawk 1-6 2-2 4, Lucas Bowser 8-9 3-3 19, Kolby Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0, Dana Logue 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-44 12-16 59 .


Brayden Shick 3-7 2-6 10, Mitchell Hogue 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Rearick 2-8 1-2 5, Tanner Wilson 5-12 4-4 15, Braden Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Austin Ion 7-17 1-1 17, Corey Rapp 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Wingard 1-2 0-1 2.

THREE-POINTERS – Union 3-11 (Morris 2-4, Murphy 1-2, Hawk 0-4, Bowser 0-1). Keystone 5-19 (Shick 2-5, Ion 2-8, Wilson 1-3, Rearick 0-2, Rapp 0-1).

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