Union City — Friday, February 15th, the Union City Bears’ playoff journey began against the Mercer Mustangs. UC played hard to end the Mustangs season with an 85-60 victory.
When Mercer stepped onto the court, their record was 0-17, yet they made the Bears work for the points … mostly. A foul by Bronnan Higley sent the Mustangs to the line to score the first point of the game. For the rest of the 1st quarter, the two teams managed to stay close in score. Miles Parker contributed 9 points — 3 from the foul line and 6 from 3-point field goals. Andrew Hoban also had his first of five 3-point shots. Brayden Kinney and Higley also added to the 20-15 quarter lead.
UC was on fire for the rest of the game. In the beginning of Q2, the Bears scored 13 unanswered points. Hoban shot two back-to-back 3’s after UC quickly stole the ball on defense. With the ball in their possession again, Union City continuously rotated the ball until they could find an open shot, and again, Mercer sent Kinney to the foul line. Kinney also had two rebounded shots, a common move for him under the hoop. UC held the Mustangs to 12 points that quarter compared to their 23 points.
Hoban started the second half off with a 3-point FG adding to the Bears’ drive. Mercer responded with a 3-pointer of their own, but the Bears were already pulling further ahead. Before the Mustangs were able to put up another shot, UC had already scored 9 points. Union City kept a fast-paced offense that Mercer could not shut down.
The Mustangs continued to send the Bears to the foul line only helping to advanced their opponents lead. Parker snatched up a ball that drifted over the half court line for a layup making the score 78-43. With only 3:45 left in the game, Coach Thompson cleared some of JV players from the bench. He rotated the other JV players, and they took the score to 85 and allowed the Mustangs to reach 60.
Coach Thompson was excited for his team to win their first playoff game, especially in the Bears’ Den. He said they did not prepare any differently than usual. “We just tried to stay loose and confident, but humble,” Coach Thompson replied. He remarked that this is what the team has been working and striving for all season. “One more game and we qualify for the state playoffs,” he responded before heading into the locker room.