Union holds off Western Beaver
Union (75) Vs. Western Beaver (65)
Jan 21, 2012
Special to The News

It didn’t have a playoff game feel to it, but that’s what it was for Union High.

The Scotties’ boys basketball team entertained Western Beaver at 6 p.m. last night in a WPIAL Section 1-A game that was moved up so the Golden Beavers could travel home before the roads got slick. But Union’s situation would not have changed if the game had been played at noon.

The Scotties needed a victory … badly.

They got one, defeating Western Beaver, 75-65, at Mike Covelli Field House.

The contest wrapped up the first half of the section schedule with Union at 2-3 in the section and 7-7 overall. More importantly, the Scotties are tied with Western Beaver (2-3, 5-8) for fourth place in the standings.

The top four teams in each section advance to the WPIAL playoffs, so last night’s game was a must-win contest for the Scotties.

“This was a big one for us,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “It was a good way to end the first half of the section and puts us back in the thick of things in the section.”

“Like coach said, it was a playoff game. We had to go out and win it,” said Union forward Markel Peace, who scored 28 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Scotties.

The game was hardly a thing of beauty. It lacked pace and there were a couple stretches where both teams had trouble putting the ball in the basket. Union missed a number of easy shots.

“Yeah, we did,” Smialowski said. “If we make those it wouldn’t have been as close as it was. The game was ugly at times, but I’ll take an ugly win.”

Although the Scotties missed easy shots, Western Beaver was never able to take advantage.

Union took a 51-44 lead into the fourth quarter and Western Beaver trimmed the margin to five points at the start of the final period. But the Scotties ran off five consecutive points to go back on top by 10.

Peace, who also had seven rebounds, got free for a layup and Joe Salmen, who finished with 20 points, made one of two free throws. Peace then scored on a fastbreak with just more than five minutes remaining to complete the mini-run.

The closest the Golden Beavers would get after that was eight points. Union was on top 66-53 with 1:52 left to play following a layup by Drew Robinson.

“We kind of held them at bay,” Smialowski said. “We never let it get to the point where we were in trouble.”

Union’s offensive balance had something to do with that. Peace was exceptional in the fourth quarter when the game’s pace picked up. Salmen supplied the long-range attack, connecting on four 3-pointers and sophomore Benjamin Young, who did a little bit of everything, score 14 points. Tre Major pulled down 10 rebounds to go with his seven points.

Peace was surprised to learn he had 28 points.

“I was just playing to win,” he said with a smile. “We are really good at running the court.”

“He has played well the past few games,” Smialowski said of Peace. “He’s really starting to pick it up and he can shoot it, too.”

Nick Miller paced Western Beaver with 19 points and Brandon Sheeler added 12 points off the bench.

Four of union’s final six regular-season games are at home, which is good for the Scotties. They entertain Mohawk in a nonsection game at 1 p.m. today and then play host to Cornell on Friday. The Scotties also entertain Our Lady of Sacred Heart on Feb. 3. Those are the two teams just a game ahead of the Scotties in the section standings. Lincoln Park is in first place at 5-0 and visits Union Feb. 7.

Union plays at Western Beaver and at Rochester, which is winless in the section, the second half.

(E-mail: ncsports@ncnewsonline.com)
Nightly Roundup
Jan 21, 2012 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Union 21 14 16 24 0 75
Western Beaver 16 12 16 21 0 65
Box Scores
Jake St. George 5 0-0 10
Nolan Shank 1 0-0 2
Chris Frye 1 3-4 5
Nick Miller 7 4-6 19
Jon Shepler 3 0-2 6
Zach Perry 3 1-2 7
Brandon Sheeler 6 0-0 12
Steve Robinson 2 0-0 4
Tracy Brozich 0 0-0 0
Totals: 28 8-14 65

UNION (75)
Joe Salmen 4 8-9 20
Drew Robinson 2 0-0 4
Tre Major 3 1-2 7
Markel Peace 11 4-4 28
Benjamin Young 6 1-3 14
Wayne Seamans 0 0-0 0
Jordan Conrad 1 0-0 2
Totals: 27 14-18 75

W. BEAVER 16 12 16 21 — 65
UNION 21 14 16 24 — 75

3-point goals — Western Beaver 1 (Miller), Union 7 (Salmen 4, Peace 2, Young 1).
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