SHAC match up goes to West Union 62-48 –
By Mark Carpenter –
Six days later they met again. After battling it out in the championship game of the McDonald’s Classic on Dec. 30, the West Union Dragons and North Adams Green Devils were at it again on Friday, Jan. 5, this time matching up in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play on the home court of the Devils on Homecoming Night at North Adams.
On their home floor six days earlier, the Dragons had pulled out a 58-54 win to capture the 2017 Classic and the Green Devils were looking for revenge as well as an important conference win. That wasn’t to be, however, as the visiting Dragons spoiled Homecoming, pulling away in the second half to hand the Devils another defeat, this time by a final score of 62-48.
“This was a big night for us,” said West Union head coach Greg Himes. “We came in here focused and ready to go, it’s tough to play up here so it’s a big win for us.”
“We knew we had to play with a lot of energy and intensity.”
For the Dragons and Coach Himes, it was their fourth consecutive victory, but at game’s beginning, it looked as if the home team was in control, as the Devils scored the game’s first six points and held the Dragons scoreless for nearly three minutes. A jumper by Zane Kingsolver finally broke the ice for West Union at the 5:21 mark but a later three-point goal by Ryan Shupert gave the Devils an 11-4 advantage.
That lead for the home team vanished in the final three minutes of the first quarter as the Dragons reeled off eight in a row, a run that included two more baskets from Kingsolver, and the scoreboard had flipped, with West Union up 12-11 after one.
The two teams went back and forth for most of the second period, with matching three-pointers from WU’s Elijah McCarty and the Devils’ Dylan Ison left North Adams on top at 18-17. The red-hot Kingsolver scored two more buckets to put his team back in front, but four quick points from Austin McCormick gave the lead back to the Devils.
As they had in the first quarter, the Dragons closed out the second stanza on a run, this time of 8-2, getting two baskets from Ryan Rothwell and then a steal and layup at the buzzer from McCarty that gave the visitors a 29-24 halftime lead.
That momentum entering the half carried over to the third quarter for the Dragons as they stayed hot and began the third frame with a 10-2 run, fueled by Rothwell, who hit a pair of three-pointers and then scored on a nice baseline drive. A pair of Bowan Tomlin free throws and West Union had extended its lead to 39-26.
Trying to fight their way back in the game, the Devils got baskets from Jacob Call and Colt Shumaker but couldn’t slow down the Dragons as a three-pointer by McCarty and a steal and score from Rothwell made it 46-30 West Union after three quarters of play.
No team coached by Nathan Copas is going to go down without a fight and the Devils came out of the gate in the fourth quarter and turned what was looking like a blowout into an interesting contest. The suddenly invigorated home team scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter, bringing the home crowd to a frenzy and slicing the West Union lead down to 46-41. A three-point play by McCormick and three-point shots by Ison and Elijah Young cut the deficit to five with 5:20 to play, but the Dragons have too much talent not to have an answer.
A nice baseline drive and score by Garrett Vogler, followed by a Tomlin trey pushed the West Union lead back out to double digits, and a later “3” from Tomlin plus an Eli Fuller jumper seemed to take the final winds out of the North Adams sails as the visitors held on to a 56-45 advantage with just over a minute to play.
In that final minute of action, the Dragons hit four free throws, two by Rothwell and two by Kingsolver, keeping their comfortable cushion and holding on to hand the Devils the 62-48 defeat.
The win improved the Dragons to 7-3 overall, 4-2 and just one game off the pace in the big school division of the SHAC. The victorious Dragons placed four players in double figures in the Friday night triumph, led by Rothwell with 18, McCarty and Tomlin with 14 each, and Kingsolver with 12.
“It was a great performance tonight by our whole group,” said Coach Himes. “Ryan didn’t score a lot against them last week, but he came back strong tonight. He does a lot of things that don’t show up in the stat line like guarding the other team’s best scorer.”
North Adams fell to 3-7 with the loss, 2-5 in the conference. The Devils were led in scoring by Austin McCormick’s 15 points, with Dylan Ison adding 13 and Colt Shumaker 8.
The Dragons now face a very tough part of their SHAC schedule that began on Tuesday, Jan. 9 with a trip to Eastern Brown to face the Warriors, who handed Ripley their first conference loss on Friday night. On Friday, Jan 12, West Union will host the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs, another tough SHAC match up.
“Eastern Brown will be a tough game, you know Coach Beucler will have them ready to play,” said Himes.
North Adams was slated to host Whiteoak at home on Jan. 9 in SHAC action, then they get their chance with Eastern Brown as the Warriors travel to Seaman on Friday , Jan. 12.
12 17 17 16 –62
11 13 6 18 –48
W. Union (62): Rothwell 7 2-6 18, Fuller 1 0-0 2, Vogler 1 0-0 2, McCarty 5 2-2 14, Tomlin 5 2-2 14, Kingsolver 5 2-3 12, Team 24 8-14 62.
N. Adams (48): Call 2 0-0 4, Shupert 1 0-0 3, Ison 5 1-2 13, E. Young 2 0-0 5, Shumaker 4 0-0 8, McCormick 6 3-4 15, Team 20 4-6 48.
W. Union (6): Rothwell 2, McCarty 2, Tomlin 2
N. Adams (4): Shupert 1, Ison 2, E. Young 1