The Union County girls basketball team demonstrated quickly it has improved and visiting Randolph Southern made adjustments.
When the Patriots forced turnovers and put key Rebels in foul trouble, others had to step up.
Shelbie Hathaway had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds Friday night as the Rebels improved to 4-0 with a 48-32 victory over Union County.
“I’ve been playing with this team for a while now, and we play really good together,” the senior said. “Right now, they just needed a senior to step up and I was happy to take it, so I really think we did good.”
Patriot Maria Duckworth intercepted a pass early in the first quarter of the contest, helping the Patriots to an early 3-0 lead, courtesy of a free throw from Maddy Walters and a layup by Tanner Henry. Maddi Kramer finally put the Rebels on the scoreboard almost 3 minutes after tip-off.
Duckworth added a jumper and a layup as the Patriots (1-2) led by as many four, 7-3, but Randolph Southern finished the first quarter on a 13-0 run to take a 16-7 lead.
“They came up and we just weren’t ready for them, but we stepped up and did what we needed to do,”Hathaway said. ” … We just got together and we said, ‘Listen, we can play better than this, we expect more from ourselves.’ Coach reminded us that we’re a better team, and we adjusted to that quickly.”
Duckworth ended a scoreless drought of about four minutes in the second, but the Rebels maintained their composure to lead 25-17 at halftime.
Still, the Patriots kept the pressure, forcing 25 turnovers in a fast-paced and physical game.
“You’re not going to win too many games with 25 turnovers, and for us to put 48 points up, I don’t know how, but we had a lot of players step up tonight,” Rebels coach Jerimy Stephan said. “We got in a lot of foul trouble and they just pressured us and they put us in situations we haven’t been in. We need that, we need to have that kind of play done, and luckily tonight we came out on the good side, but we can’t do that every night.”
Morgan Acton, the Rebels’ 5-foot-11 post presence got her third foul two minutes into the third quarter and did not play again until the fourth, yet finished with 10 points. Kramer also battled foul trouble, but finished with seven points, while Cameron Whitesel had six.
Duckworth led the Patriots with 15 points and had a few key steals and a block. Emily Goecke and Tanner Henry each had six points, while Walters and Maddie Fulton each had a team-high seven rebounds.
The Patriots dropped last year’s meeting 59-31 and are without one of their key scorers Leah Gabbard, who is out with an injury.
“I think we’ve improved in every category,” first-year Patriot coach Scott Gray said. “Don’t get me wrong, we are not where we need to be. We’re not where we want to be. I told my kids after the game they played hard –I don’t fault their effort one bit — and we were in the game for three quarters.
“… Randolph Southern is an established program, they’ve won championships, they have a good thing going there, and our goal is to get there, to be that type of program, and our kids know that.”