Winning a game takes four quarters of play on both ends of the floor, which is something Vaughn Butler's Union Local Jets squad can attest to, after narrowly edging out the Shamrocks of Barnesville by a 59-56 margin Tuesday evening in Morristown.
The night didn't start out the way it ended though, as the Shamrocks busted out of the gates with a commanding start, highlighted by 13-0 run to end the first stanza, leaving the score at 18-7 after one quarter of play.
"We struggled early, couldn't really hit any shots, and just shot the ball poorly. The second half we took better care of the ball and started to hit some shots," commented Butler of his team's early play. "We made some bad decisions with the ball in the first half, but fought through it."
The homestanding Jets wouldn't allow that to last long as senior Jacob Bailey drew a pair of offensive charges and dropped a couple early buckets in the second, on his way to a 24-point effort, displaying hustle and heads-up play on both ends.
With some help from frosh Kaleb McDiffit in the second panel, Union Local would cut the margin down to just three at the midway point, to 29-26.
"Kaleb came on as our second scorer tonight, which we have needed," Butler praised of his freshman guard. "We can count on Jacob, but haven't really had a second scorer step up consistently. He did that for us."
After some obvious strategy changes in the locker room, the Jets would open up the second half regaining the lead by outscoring the opposition 20-10 in the third quarter.
Bailey netted a pair of treys and collected nine markers to bring his team to a seven-point lead heading into the final period, which would turn out to be a scrappy, dramatic, and fast paced finale.
Senior Collin Jones stepped up by knocking down a big shot from the elbow. Barnesville's Brandon Burkhart would match that on the other end from the corner by hitting a twelve-foot jumper to tie it back up.
With the score tied at 56 all, 51.4 seconds remained to play and with the ball in the Jets possession, Bailey stutter-stepped past a Shamrocks' defender to knock down the bucket on a drive, while drawing a foul to complete the traditional three-point play and eventually sealing the contest.
The Shamrocks did have their opportunity as a Burkhart three-pointer clanged off the front of the rim, and into the hands of Bailey who snagged the rebound on the way to the floor, before being called for a traveling violation.
After a quick timeout, Rocks' coach Chris Pack drew up a play which was well-guarded by the Jets defense, forcing the in bounds to Dylan MacMillan, who drew some contact putting up the last shot of the game from three-point land as time expired.
"We switched some things up late to try to keep them off balance, but they made some shots tonight," exclaimed Pack.
"We made some tough shots down the stretch playing on the road, and if we play like we did in the first and fourth quarters, we will be fine. I was proud of them, we got down seven or eight and battled back to tie it up."
Barnesville was paced by MacMillan, who dropped 17 points, while having a commendable 7 for 8 night at the charity stripe, adding solid defense and hustle plays throughout.
"Dylan really gutted it out going to get boards tonight. He stepped up for us to get us in a position to win." said Pack.
Burkhart added 16 on the night for the Green. "Anytime you're playing a rival, its going to be a tight one," the Shamrocks' coach added.
Union Local, improving to 4-7, heads to Buckeye Local Wednesday night to continue their campaign, while Barnesville, now 4-9, prepares for Beallsville at home Friday.
The Jets' reserves notched a win to precede varsity action.
UNION LOCAL (59) McDiffit 5 0-0 12; Sill 0 0-0 0; Dunfee 3 0-0 6; Causby 0 0-0 0; Haverty 0 0-0 0; Jones 2 0-0 4; Porter 1 1-2 4; McKivitz 2 0-0 4; Bailey 8 4-6 24; C.Tipton 0 0-0 0; Pavlick 0 0-0 0; Goodson 0 0-0 0; T.Tipton 2 1-2 5; Totals: 23 6-10 59. BARNESVILLE (56) Mankin 0 0-0 0; Anderson 0 0-0 0; Burkhart 7 2-3 16; MacMillan 5 7-8 17; Stewart 2 0-0 6; McGee 3 0-0 8; Wells 0 0-0 0; Nicholson 0 0-0 0; Houston 3 3-6 9; Totals 20 12-17 56.
Three-Point Field Goals: UL 7 (McDiffit 2, Porter 1, Bailey 4) Barnes 4 (Stewart 2, McGee 2)