Union makes statement against Monaca
Union (75) Vs. Monaca (54)
Dec 12, 2008
By JOE SAGER
It began as a circle and ended as a statement.
Union High’s boys basketball team steamrolled to a 75-54 home win over Monaca in last night’s WPIAL Section 1-A opener for both teams.
Both the Scotties (1-0 section, 3-2 overall) and Indians (0-1, 2-3) are favored to contend for the section championship this season. However, Union certainly made a statement with its lopsided triumph.
“I think it is (a big win),” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “I called it a ‘circle game.’ If it’s a big game, that’s what we call them and that goes back to when coach (Mark) Stanley was here. In the first section game, to have Monaca here — this is a team we’re going to be competing against for a playoff spot. I really felt this was a big game for us. The kids came out, responded and played very well.”
The Scotties stormed past Monaca in the second half as their fast break was too much for the Indians.
“That’s a big win,” said Union senior guard Jason Burkes, who tallied 20 points. “Coach said they were coming off a great football season and haven’t had much time in the gym, so they still have their football legs. We just tried to run the court on them and succeeded.”
Union bolted to a 7-0 lead and held a 13-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Indians made a charge and built a three-point edge before the Scotties took control late in second. They closed the frame with a 6-0 run to build a 35-28 buffer at halftime.
“You knew they were going to make a run back — that’s basketball,” Smialowski said. “I told the kids to keep their heads and keep doing what they were doing out there and be smart with the basketball. They did it and it translated into a nice win.”
Union tallied the first seven points of the third quarter to increase its advantage to 14 points, 42-28, just 41 seconds into the second half.
“We tell them at halftime to try to extend the lead right away,” Smialowski said. “If we let teams get close, they are going to get confidence and get into the game. If we come out and extend the lead, that’s the knockout punch and that’s what the kids did.”
Burkes scored eight of his 20 points in the third quarter as the Scotties received contributions from a bevy of players.
“It just all came together,” Burkes said. “We were looking for that game where everything came together and it happed to be this one.”
Union hopes everything continues to come together next week when the Scotties visit Freeport on Wednesday for a nonsection clash. They return to section action Thursday night with a visit to Beaver County Christian, which is in its first season as a WPIAL member.
“Coach was preaching to us that it is a big win, but there’s a lot more basketball left,” Burkes said. “We have to get back in the gym and work hard for next week.”
Union’s Anthony Thomas led all scorers with 23 points. Nick DeCesare added 12.
Skylar Schultz and Chad Takarski both led Monaca with 13 points.