Jacob Bailey has always had a shooter's touch.
Since he stepped on the court for Union Local as a freshman, opposing defenses had to pay extra attention when the 6-foot guard's feet found their way to the perimeter.
But Bailey has rounded out his offensive repertoire and displayed his new skill set for all to see during Friday's season opening 61-47 win against visiting Edison.
"He takes the basketball to the basket a lot more," Union Local coach Vaughn Butler said. "We're expecting a lot out of him. Plus he's gotten bigger and is more physical."
Bailey finished with 30 points, including a game-high six 3-pointers, but struggled early to get dialed in from the perimeter.
It mattered not.
Against Edison's zone littered with inexperienced players, Bailey was able to knife through the lane, draining layups and make the most off-balance scoop shots seem elementary.
Edison coach Nate Moses took notice.
"Bailey is a very good shooter," Moses said. "Union Local is very athletic and quick and my hat is off to them."
The Wildcats jumped off to a 6-3 lead before foul trouble forced a few starters to the bench and a cold spell offensively watched UL rattle off 15 straight points.
When Alec Jones finally hit a jumper with 13 seconds left, UL was leading 18-8.
The Jets worked to expand their lead in the second and were up by as many as 17 before Jones got into a rhythm and went to work. The 'Cats senior scored seven straight and, after canning a triple at the horn, UL's lead was trimmed to 10.
"We had a few starters on the bench and we started taking shots too quickly," Moses said. "Tonight was a learning experience for us but we'll get better. We basically only have one guy in our lineup with experience."
That guy is Jones, who finished with 17 points, aided by 14 and eight rebounds from fellow senior J.D. Howell.
The duo tried to keep Edison within striking distance, but once Bailey heated up in the third - 11 points, three 3-pointers - the Jets' lead slowly expanded.
Bailey was backed by 13 points from Gavin Porter and eight from senior Collin Jones.
Perhaps equally as impressive as Bailey's offensive output was UL's ability to take care of the ball, an issue that plagued the team greatly last season.
At halftime, the Jets had only three turnovers and finished with eight for the game, a statistic not lost on Butler.
"I was impressed with how well we took care of the ball," Butler said. "We only had three at the half. We got a little sloppy and fell asleep late (in the fourth) but overall, it was a good start.
"We need to work on our rebounding more."
The Jets will have plenty of time to do so, not taking the court again until Friday's home matchup against Buckeye Local.
EDISON (47) - Lee 4-5 0-2 8; Kramarich 1-2 0-2 2; D.Jones 2-9 0-1 4; A.Jones 6-22 3-5 17; Howell 7-13 0-3 14; Allese 1-5 0-0 2; Horan 0-6 0-0 0; Woodward 0-2 0-1 0; Hyndman 0-0 0-0 0; Totals: 21-64 3-14. UNION LOCAL (61) - McDiffitt 1-8 0-0 5; Jones 2-5 4-4 8; Porter 5-12 1-2 13; Bailey 10-24 4-6 30; C.Tipton 1-3 0-0 2; T.Tipton 1-5 0-0 3; Smolira 0-0 0-0 0; Haverty 0-0 0-0 0; Totals: 20-57 9-12 61.
Three-point Goals: Edison 2 (A.Jones 2). Union Local 9 (Bailey 6, McDiffitt, Porter 2).
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