Union Local Jets stormed out to a comfortable double-digit lead in the
first half and never looked back in a 69-62 victory over Belmont County
rival Barnesville on Friday.
The Jets (7-3) used a 6-2 spurt to end the first frame and take a 12-9 edge into the second round. Back-to-back buckets by Kyle Blackman was followed by a field goal at the hands of BHS senior Josh Wells. Union Local junior Joby Barr, who had a game-high 27 points, then ended the opening stanza with a bucket for the three-point cushion.
Barnesville (4-6) managed to tie things at 17-all at the 4:39 mark with a 6-0 spurt. Junior Colby MacMillan, senior Michael Wehr and Wells each had a basket during the mini surge.
Union Local then took over with a dominating 19-5 run over the final 4:24 of the second period. Barr started Union Local’s march to a 36-22 halftime lead with a three-point play. Junior Jordan Barbina then connected on consecutive baskets, the last including an and-one free throw, to give the hosts a 25-17 reading at the 3:05 juncture.
A charity toss by junior Kody Skinner interrupted an 8-0 showing before the Jets rattled off seven more unanswered tallies. A single free throw by Barr, a pair of free tosses by Blackman, and hoops by senior Zack Azallion and Barr gave the hosts a 32-18 upperhand with 1:11 remaining in the half.
Two free throws by senior Shane Crosier stopped the run and junior Tyler Sells scored inside seconds later to leave Barnesville on the wrong end of a 33-22 count. Barr finished his solid first half with a three-point play with just 0:13.9 showing on the clock to give UL the 14-point lead at the intermission.
Union Local head coach Ben Porter said his team turned in one of its best performances of the season, especially in the first half.
“In the first two quarters, we did the things we wanted to do,” Porter noted. “We got good scoring opportunities and attacked the basket, which allowed us to spread the floor. Their rebounding kept them in the game early on, but we got better as the game went on. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was better than we’ve played this season.”
Barnesville was able to trim Union Local’s lead to 13 heading into the final quarter after a 14-13 edge in the third eight minutes. Skinner had six points for the Shamrocks while Barbina had five in the round for the Jets.
The Jets seemed to have put the game on ice after Barbina and sophomore Brandon Nicholes opened the last stanza with consecutive buckets to give UL its biggest lead of the night at 53-36.
However, the ’Rocks wouldn’t go away so quietly. Eight straight points by BHS pulled the visitors within 11 at 53-44. Wells and Skinner had a three-point play each while Wehr tallied a goal.
After two quick driving baskets by Barr gave UL a 57-44 lead, Barnesville used an 8-2 spurt, which included a triple by senior Aaron Burga, to cut the deficit to 59-52 with 3:21 left in the contest.
The Jets managed to push the lead to 12 thanks to a trifecta and two free throws by Barbina. Once again, the Shamrocks showed fight as they whittled the lead to six (68-62) after a second Burga three-pointer with 0:49.1 ticks on the clock.
Union Local managed to keep the Shamrocks from completing a rousing comeback by holding onto the basketball for nearly the rest of the game.
BHS head coach Chris Pack complimented his troops for not giving up, but pointed out the second quarter was what doomed his squad.
“When we executed what we wanted to do, we played well,” he said. “We had opportunities to be in the ball game, but we had a couple of stretches where we just broke down and that hurt us. I was pleased with how we battled back. I really felt we outplayed them for three-fourths of the game, but the 25 percent they outplayed us was a killer. Credit should go to Union Local because they played one of their best games of the season. They have a couple of key guys they can go to in clutch situations and they step up when called upon.
“The second quarter was just a killer. Wells picked up his third foul and we gave up 24 points. If we could reset that quarter, we would probably be a little happier in the locker room,” Pack concluded.
Joining Barr in the scoring column for the Jets was Barbina, who tallied 19 points, three rebounds and two assists. Blackman also had a huge game as he finished with 14 points, 13 boards and seven rejections. Azallion added seven points and three caroms while Nicholes finished with two markers.
Porter said Blackman was a difference maker.
“He played physical and was aggressive,” Porter noted. “He did what he’s capable of doing every game. He had an 18-rebound performance against Buckeye Trail in our last game. He definitely helped on defense with his presence in the middle. He allowed our guards to roam and cause some turnovers for us.”
Barnesville was paced by Skinner’s 15 points and four rebounds. Wehr contributed 12 points and four rebounds; Burga added 11 points; Wells tallied nine points and nine caroms; Crosier recorded seven points and seven boards; MacMillan posted six points and six assists; and Sells had two points.
Union Local shot 25-of-48 from the field and 16-of-29 at the free throw line. The Jets finished with 30 rebounds, 10 assists, seven blocks, four steals and nine turnovers.
The visitors ended up shooting 23-of-62 from the floor and 12-of-14 at the charity stripe. The ’Rocks had 36 boards, 11 assists, five blocks, four steals and nine miscues.
In the JV game, Barnesville improved to 7-3 with a 48-45 decision.
The Shamrocks were led by Fred McLaughlin and Sells, who had 11 points apiece. Jourden Yager, Nathan Anderson and Bryson Stephen each had six points; Brennan DeLaney and Clint Healey chipped in three points; and Tre Greiner finished with two markers.
Darby Waller had 16 points to lead UL (4-6). Mark Thompson added 10 points; Nicholes finished with seven points; Kyle Jarrett recorded five markers; and Luke Tacosik totaled two points.