The beginning made all the difference.
A quick start by Union County’s boys basketball Patriots gave the home team a lead it never surrendered, and UC held off a spirited Seton Catholic effort throughout to post a 78-68 win in Tuesday night’s home opener for the Patriots.
Six days after falling late at Connersville, UC jumped ahead with seven points in the first minute of the game, led 11-2 early and maintained a lead throughout the game.
But Seton battled all night, and the game was never out of reach for the Cardinals, who scored 44 points in the second half, including 26 in the final eight minutes.
But using the inside scoring of senior Hunter Miller and outside scoring from point guard Kory Finch and others, UC scored 27 in the final period to maintain the advantage and move to 1-1. Seton is now 0-2, with road losses at Tri-Eastern Conference powers Centerville and Union County.
“I was very happy with our offense. We shot only 11 threes tonight and hit seven of them,” said UC had coach Mark Detweiler. “And we shot 56 percent from the floor, but we must work on our defense and conditioning. The game was played at a fast pace, and I thought we got tired at times. The personnel of our team and Seton’s was a match, so it was a fast game. The first quarter was good all around, but we have some work to do on getting into our stance (defense) and our stamina (conditioning).”
On offense, Miller had a huge second half inside with 21 of his game-high 23. Finch had 11 first-half points and 16 total.
“Coach told us to work it inside, that this was the place they (Seton) would have trouble guarding us,” the Patriot senior said. “When I get it inside, if they double team, I throw it out, and if not, I just try to score the ball.”
And score he did after intermission.
Finch was a force driving the ball early and shooting the 3-ball later.
“We wanted to listen to the coach and start the game well and play fast if we can,” Finch said. “But we have to work on our defense and help on defense more.”
Brandon Himes scored 14 for UC with Braden Norris netting 11.
Seton was led by Desmond Bane with 17 points, and both Rhett Butler and Cliff Dickman scored 12.
“We want the program to be where we can play at TEC schools like Centerville and Union County and be competitive, and I thought we were the other night and also were (Tuesday),” said Seton coach Josh Jurgens. “That is a really good Union County team. They will compete for conference and sectional titles.”
Jurgens is using this team’s strengths to move through the schedule.
“Our strengths are our shooting and driving ability, and I am pleased with our offensive output,” Jurgens concluded. “If we continue to score this way, we are going to beat a lot of the teams left on our schedule.”
Next up for Seton is a home game against National Trail (Ohio) this Friday night. Union County hosts Knightstown the same night.