Union clinches playoff spot


Union boys basketball coach Josh Luckett didn’t really expect much out of his Yellowjackets on Friday night against Philadelphia in the consolation game of the Division 4-2A Tournament.

After losing 69-36 to Newton in the tournament semifinals on Thursday night, the Yellowjackets bounced back with a tough defensive effort but eventually lost to the Tornadoes 36-33 to finish as the No. 4 seed in the division.

Luckett said he didn’t really know what to expect after getting beat by 33 points by Newton.

“I was really surprised that my team bounced back the way they did after a tough loss against Newton the night before,” Luckett said. “I would have never thought that after we beat Newton once and lost a close game at their place that we would have came out that flat. I really thought today we were going to be down and weren’t going to be ready to play. We bounced back and played good defense against Philly. We held them to 36 points. We didn’t score a lot either but we bounced back and played a pretty good game.”

The Yellowjackets are now 14-13 on the season and will travel to Ingomar.

“I think Ingomar was No. 1 in the regular season,” Luckett said. “The thing about it, we are four but we are in a really tough district. It could have gone either way in this district. If we had beaten Newton, we would have been the No. 1 seed. Getting on the road is tough but going to play a No. 1 seed like Ingomar, I still feel like we have a chance to win. They won’t be any tougher than what we have been going against the last couple of weeks.”

Philadelphia 36, Union 33

In the tournament semifinals, the Yellowjackets took regular-season champion Philadelphia to the last seconds before falling by three on Friday night.

Philly led 11-10 at the end of the first period but the game was tied at 19 at the half. Philly took a three-point lead in the third, outscoring Union 9-6 to take a 28-25 advantage.

The Tornadoes led by as many as eight in the fourth period and it appeared as if P.J. Gage tied the game on a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play. But the shot was ruled a 2-pointer and the Tornadoes held on for a three-point win.

“We had a chance late,” Luckett said. “(Gage) hit what we thought was a three that would have tied the game and made that a different game. That was huge. If that had been a three, momentum is on our side and then they have to go score.”

Gage led Union with 10 points while J.T. Vance had nine points and Casey Morris added five points.

Newton 69, Union 36

After splitting games in the regular season, the Tigers took the rubber match as they blasted the homestanding Yellowjackets on Thursday night in the tournament semifinals.

The Tigers doubled up the Yellowjackets in the first period, jumping out to a 14-6 lead. The Tigers then put the game away in the second as they outscored Union 23-10 to take a 37-16 lead at the half. Newton continued to extend its lead in the second half, outscoring Union 18-14 in the third and 14-6 in the fourth.

P.J. Gage led Union with nine points while J.T. Vance had eight points and Casey Morris added six points.