Union secures playoff spot with win over Monaca
Union (58) Vs. Monaca (30)
Feb 06, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
It could have been a trap game for the Union Scotties.
A trap game is one that looks to be an easy one on the schedule, but turns out to be an upset or have a final score much closer than expected. Trap games happen because it is a special occasion for one of the teams or because it comes just before or after a tough game for the favorite, in this case Union.
The Scotties braved the winter storm and played at Monaca last night in a WPIAL Section 1-A contest. Union was coming off a tough home loss against Lincoln Park and was playing the Indians in the school’s final home basketball game ever.
Monaca is merging with Center to become Central Valley for the 2010-11 school year and beyond. There will be no Monaca High School after this school year and the Indians wanted to close out their gym with a victory. It didn’t happen.
Union came up with one of its better defensive efforts of the season, receiving 20 points from Anthony Thomas en route to a 58-30 victory. The win upped Union’s overall record to 13-4 and its section mark to 3-3. More importantly, it secured the Scotties a spot in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
With section games remaining against Western Beaver and rival Neshannock the worst Union can finish in the standings is 3-5 and in fourth place. The top four teams in each section advance to the postseason.
“That’s the big thing and it’s nice to get that wrapped up,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “But there’s still work to be done. I told them (players) we need to go out and win these last two games and get as high of a seed as possible (for the playoffs), that way we might not have as tough of a first-round game.”
Monaca invited back its former boys and girls coaches and recognized them in a pre-game ceremony. Former Monaca players who were at the contest were recognized at halftime. That’s the reason the game wasn’t postponed or played earlier in the day.
That’s also the reason Smialowski was worried the Scotties were walking into an ambush.
“We didn’t make a big deal about it with the players, but we told them this was their (Monaca’s) final game and that they’d be up for it,” he said. “Plus, we were coming off a tough loss at home against Lincoln Park and while we had two good practices after that one, you never know how players might react.”
The game was tied at 10 after the first quarter. But Union scored the first nine points of the second period and while the Scotties didn’t shoot as well as they would have liked, they played outstanding defense.
Monaca (1-6, 4-15) scored just four points in the second quarter, didn’t make a field-goal attempt until there was 1:15 left in the period and attempted just seven shots.
“We try to get after people every game,” said Thomas when asked about the team’s defensive effort. “We did a good job of limiting their shots and we got some steals.”
Monaca closed to within 25-18 at the start of the second half, but that’s when Union pulled away. The Scotties went on a 13-1 run to take a 38-19 lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Nate Majors, who came off the bench to score 10 points, had the final two field goals in the outburst.
“Nate has been doing a nice job for us and has been getting starter minutes even though he comes off the bench,” Smialowski said. “He comes in and gives us a lift.”
Union held a 43-24 lead going into the fourth quarter and scored the first six points of the period to up the advantage to 25 points.
“I was worried about this one because the Monaca kids always play hard,” Smialowski said. “At the half we talked about coming out and putting a run together and not letting them get back in the game and that’s what we did.”