MONROE – The Union Academy boys basketball team entered its Jan. 19 showdown with PAC 7 conference leader Community School of Davidson badly needing a win after squandering a great chance three days earlier against Mountain Island Charter.
The Cardinals now look up at the Raptors in the standings after losing 81-78 in overtime on Jan. 15.
In the loss, the Cardinals led by six points after the first quarter and by a point at the half after a consistent performance. But the third quarter was a different story as the Raptors opened up on a 15-5 run led 55-48 lead after the third quarter.
But the Cardinals wouldn’t quit. After a Jalen Anderson 3-pointer capped a 9-4 run late to tie the score at 64, Union Academy forced overtime, but the Raptors spurted to a 6-0 run to open the extra period and escaped with a 81-78 win.
Four Cardinals scored in double figures in the loss including Daniel Hasty (21 points, 11 rebounds and five steals), Anderson (19 points, six rebounds and five steals), Derek Young, Jr. (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Johnny Anderson (12 points).
The loss dropped the Cardinals to 11-3, but just 2-3 in league play and currently fifth in the standings and one game back of the Raptors. Worse, their losses have now come by two points on two separate occasions in overtime both times and by four points earlier this season.
“We need to clean that up and get cleaner shots. That it. We just need to play smart basketball at times,” said Cardinals first-year coach Barney Harris. “There is some pressure on us, because now we do need a conference win badly, but we need to just get back to basics, watch film, be smart and be prepared. We need to keep doing our homework and our scouting reports and put these athletes in a good position to win.”
Three days later, hosting Community School of Davidson who came in 12-2 overall and 5-0 and atop the conference, Harris made good on his claim.
The Cardinals opened a 10-point lead after the first quarter and, like they had against Mountain Island Charter, 40-24 at the half.
But, the Spartans came back with a 22-9 third quarter run that got the score to 49-46, but Union Academy stayed the course and kept their battle for the fourth seed and automatic playoff berth alive with a 66-59 win.
Young led the Cardinals with 18 points and nine rebounds, but Jalen Anderson (15 points), Johnny Anderson (14 points) and Hasty (11 points) all scored in double figures.
“We’ve won a lot of close ones, so I guess it (was) our turn to lose a couple, but we have to fix that,” Harris said. “We’re in a real tough conference, but we will keep working and hopefully turn things around.
“They don’t quit. This is a group that has proven to me that they are going to fight all four quarters and even overtime if they need to. That’s the biggest difference. These guys play hard and they play for each other.”