Union High's comeback bid falls short
Union (54) Vs. Shanksville (58)
Mar 10, 2017
By Clayton Sauertieg
New Castle News
JOHNSTOWN — The Union High boys basketball team nearly had a comeback for the ages Friday night.
Trailing Shanksville 20-3 after the first quarter of their PIAA Class 1A first-round playoff matchup, the Scotties came storming all the way back to take a lead late in the third quarter before falling, 58-54.
"I knew it was early, even though we looked so sluggish," Union coach Mark Stanley said. "We weren't shooting and we weren't playing well defensively. But I figured if we start chipping away, start closing the gap, I knew they'd kick in. I know my kids are competitors."
Shanksville (25-1) started the game as well as it could have hoped, knocking down shots and creating turnovers en route to building a 17-point lead over the Scotties, who were playing their first game in 11 days.
Without the services of do-all wing player K'Von Huddleston due to what Stanley called "team matters," Union looked to be in trouble, lacking both energy and ingenuity on both ends of the floor.
Slowly but surely, however, the Scotties were able to chip away at the lead, holding the Vikings to just eight second-quarter points and trailing just 28-17 at the half.
"Down 11 at halftime I felt pretty good," Stanley said. "I told them 'we're right where we need to be. We're going to make a run at this thing'"
Stanley's team did just that in the third. The Scotties grabbed their first lead since early in the first quarter when junior Tre Charles hit a 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining in the third to put them ahead 35-34.
Charles scored 11 points in the quarter and 21 in the game to lead Union.
"We knew Tre Charles was going to be a significant part of their offense," Shanksville coach Robert Snyder said. "That kid battles and they have a really nice team. Their coach does a really good job with those kids."
Shanksville regained the lead at 37-35 after three, but things seemed to be swaying in the Scotties' direction in the fourth. A run of five-straight points from senior Dom Dudo, who finished with 17, gave Union a 44-41 lead with four minutes remaining. The lead swelled to five with 2:50 left in the contest after two Charles free throws.
The Vikings pulled back to within two before sophomore Dawson Snyder stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a conventional three-point play to put them up 49-48 with 1:43 remaining.
After a missed 3-pointer, Shanksville was able to corral the rebound. The Vikings were nearly automatic from the line down the stretch, shooting 14-of-15 in the final frame to close out the victory.
Aaron Smith scored 16 points to lead the Vikings, while Snyder and Jesse Bittner each chipped in with 13.
"We came out early and hit some threes and then we fell in love with the 3-point line and then it just snowballs," Robert Snyder said. "But these guys, we battled and got the job done."
The Scotties finish the season at 18-8, their first winning season since 2012-13.
"I'm just proud of them" Stanley said. "I know they're going to come out, they're going to compete. We're going to say goodbye to the seniors, gather up the juniors, sophomores and freshmen and start again."