Coming off the winter break, St. Philip boys’ basketball coach Dino English feared his team would be a little rusty against visiting Union City Friday night.
But the host Tigers looked anything but rusty from the opening tip, utilizing a fast-paced attack to earn a convincing 65-42 victory over the Chargers in non-conference action at Sheila Guerra Gymnasium.
The win helped St. Philip improve to 6-0 on the season.
“I told the guys after the (winter) break to come out and be aggressive on both ends of the floor tonight, and they did that,” English said. “I knew the guys would be a little tired after the break, but I thought we played really good. We passed the ball well, looked up the floor and got some easy buckets off that.”
Union City (1-4) got a healthy dose of St. Philip’s full-court pressure to start the game, as Tigers’ junior guard Hunter Haley registered a steal and score to put his team up 4-0 and force the Chargers to spend an early timeout.
St. Philip jumped on top 11-2 before the Chargers trimmed the deficit to 15-8 at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, St. Philip pushed its lead to 30-17, and the Tigers never let Union City to get within 12 points for the remainder of the contest.
Union City junior guard Darren Austin sparked some life into his team when he rattled off nine points in the third quarter. He finished with a team-high 14 points to go with three rebounds and two steals, while senior forward Nick Austin added eight points and five rebounds.
“We knew they were very athletic and well-coached. Really what it came down to, they shot four more shots than us, and we had 30 turnovers,” said Union City head coach Ben Chard. “We know as a young team we’ve got to cut down our turnovers, so that’s really where we feel we let ourselves down as a team tonight.”
English credited his players for forcing the issue and making Union City play the Tigers’ style of basketball.
“Union City is a good team and they play hard. We see them in the summer, they have height and strength,” English said. “But I just tell the guys to focus on our game, and when they do that, the boys play good.
“This is their team, I’m only the guy who puts the plays in and they’re the ones on the court doing the work. They’re good kids to coach, and they love the up-tempo, so I got a good team that loves the up-tempo.”
St. Philip saw four players score in double figures, led by senior guard Isaac Cloward with 16 points to go with five rebounds and three steals. Cloward aggressively attacked the basket, which helped result in a 8-for-10 effort from the free throw line.
Also for the Tigers, junior guard Dreyson English had 11 points and three steals; Haley had 10 points, seven assists and three steals and senior forward Alex Doyle had nine points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block.
“They’re focused, and having 11 seniors, that helps a lot,” English said. “If they stay focused, they can go as far as they want to go.”
(At) St. Philip 41, Union City 31: St. Philip won its third straight game behind a game-high 14 points and eight rebounds by freshman Nina Winkler.
Also for the Tigers (4-3), Megan Gordon had eight points, Emily Freybler had eight rebounds and three steals and Adrian Hibbard had four rebounds and two blocks.
“We’re steadily improving and we still have a long way to go, but this was a signature win for us,” said St. Philip coach Tony Warren. “They’re a bigger school and a solid ball club, so we were looking forward to the competition.”
For Union City (3-5), Haley Harty had seven points and six rebounds, Riley Smith had six rebounds and four assists and Rachel Wing had seven rebounds, two steals and two assists.
“I was happy with the effort,” said Union City coach Jenn Harty. “But we took a lot of shots that were not quality shots, which I think happens when you have a young team.”