LEWISVILLE, Ind. – For the second straight night, Union closed strong to win a Class A girls basketball sectional game.
The Rockets won the Class A Sectional 56 title Saturday night by pulling away for a 67-44 win, the first sectional title for Union girls varsity basketball since 1998.
That year, the season ended on this same floor at Tri High School with a regional loss, but the 22-3 Rockets won big on this night, and move on to a 10 a.m. game Saturday morning at the Tri-Central Regional. Union will meet the winner of the Rossville sectional, either 10th-ranked Carroll (Flora) or Clinton Prairie.
This one was Union virtually all night in the Donald E. Schwarzkopf Gymnasium, as a 26-point offensive outburst in the first quarter gave the Rockets a lead they protected the rest of the way.
But Union City, like Union, a team that had shared a conference title, fought hard all night, even pulling within 10 at 54-44 with still 3:15 to play.
At the point, the Rockets get a huge trey from Rylee Davis, then added 10 more points before the final buzzer, making the final score more one-sided than the actual game was.
For Union, a team state-ranked for much of the season, but not in the final poll, it was the completion of a dream that began way back before the season started.
“I knew we had a special group, all credit goes to the girls, they made all of these dreams come true,” said first-year head coach Andrew Moore.
Led by DeAnn Kauffman, who had a team-high 19 points, four Rockets scored in double figures, as MacKyndsea Burke scored 15, 13 in the second half, and Faithlan Ellis had 14, with four treys. Davis had 11 points and unofficially, eight rebounds. Kauffman added nine boards to her game-high scoring total.
For Union City, which finished 15-9, it was freshman point guard Justiss Cantu with 15 points, senior post Raelyn Mills added 12 points, with an unofficial eight rebounds, and sophomore Courtney Wise contributed 11.
Union led 26-13, 35-23 and 47-34 at the first three stops, then by 10 before the late burst to end the game.
“They (Union) got a quick start on us, and that made us dig out of a hole the whole night,” said fourth-year head varsity coach Sarah Hines of Union City. “We fought hard, and scrapped, but just couldn’t dig out of the hole. It was a game of runs, and we within 10 in the fourth quarter, but then they had the run to put the game away. We pushed the ball and never gave up, but we couldn’t get the win.”
Mills, Reagan Bradbury and Jessica Pollitt are three seniors graduating from the Union City program, a program that has increased its varsity win total in each of the past four seasons.
“Our seniors have been great leaders and great players for our program,” Hines said. “They have set the work level for our girls in going forward to future seasons.”
For Kauffman, it is a trip to regional play as one of the area’s top scorers in girls basketball, and with a 22-win Rocket team.
“Yes, we knew coming into the season, that we could play well together, we had played volleyball together, with our younger players, that we could do this,” Kauffman said. “We knew they (Union City) would pressure us, but if we could drive the ball, and all of us contribute and play our role, that we could win.”
And win the Rockets did.
ROCKETS 67, INDIANS 44.
UNION (22-3)-Kauffman 8 3-4 19, Davis 5 0-0 11, Trojanova 2 0-0 4, Burke 6 3-4 15, Ellis 5 0-0 14, Griffey 2 0-0 4, West 0 0-0 0, Rice 0 0-0 0, Green 0 0-0 0, Jenkins 0 0-0 0, Lopez-Garrido 0 0-0 0, Clark 0 0-0 0, Le 0 0-0 0, Totals: 24 6-10 67.
UNION CITY (15-9)-Mills 3 6-8 12, Hartman 0 0-0 0, Cantu 6 3-6 15, Bradbury 1 0-0 2, K. Kerna 0 0-0 0, Wise 4 2-2 11, Zimmers 0 0-0 0, Pollitt 1 1-3 4, Heuss 0 0-0 0, E. Kerns 0 0-0 0, Sigler 0 0-0 0, Davidson 0 0-0 0, Totals: 15 12-19 44.
Union 26 9 12 20 – 67
Union City 13 10 11 10 – 44
Three-pointers- U 5, (Ellis 4, Davis), UC 2 (Wise, Pollitt). Reb. – U 39, UC 29. Turn. -U 13, UC 19. Fouls – U 19, UC 14. Fouled out – None.
• MVP: DeAnn Kauffman, Union
•Rylee Davis, Union
•Raelynn Mills, Union City
•Justiss Cantu, Union City
•Cayla Johnson, Tri
•Brenna Koontz, Blue River
*—Selected by Palladium-Item sports staff