Just ask Union boys coach Zack Moore.
Moore’s Bears seemed to be cruising along before having to hold off a furious Ridgeview comeback effort in the second half of a 51-47 win.
“Every night is going to be like this,” Moore said of the battle to the end. “We played a pretty good first half and got off to a lead. Our press gave them some issues.
View Roddy Addington’s 📸📸📸 gallery
“Then it got physical. And when it gets physical, they’re better than us. They’re stronger than us right now. We let it affect us and missed too many shots inside.”
Union, up 28-18 at halftime, held on to that lead until 2:21 remained in the game. That’s when Gabe Brown’s 3-point shot put the Wolfpack up 45-44.
Another basket by Brown, who finished with 16 points, gave Ridgeview a 47-44 lead with 1:34 on the clock. Union’s Sean Cusano followed with a bucket and a free throw to tie it at 47 with 57 seconds to play.
Union took the lead for good 30 seconds later when Alex Rasnick drove the lane and put in a shot off the glass for a two-point lead.
Two missed shots by Ridgeview followed by two Rasnick free throws on the other end with seven seconds left sealed the win for Union (10-5, 3-3).
Rasnick finished with 18 points and Cusano totaled 13.
Ridgeview (10-6, 2-4) got 12 points from Austin Mullins to go with Brown’s 16.
Evan McCowan was pleased with his Wolfpack’s second-half effort but said they have to play four quarters with the same intensity.
“The end of the game doesn’t beat you,” McCowan noted. “It’s what you do in the first half and the pivotal parts earlier in the game, and that’s what happened to us. We just dug ourselves too big of hole in the first half.”
LADY ’PACK EARN BIG WIN
Ridgeview’s girls applied the pressure to come away with a huge Mountain 7 victory.
Pressure defense in the fourth quarter allowed the Wolfpack to break open a close game on the way to a 58-46 win over Union (11-4, 3-3).
“Toward the end of the third, we started a full-court press and we got a five-point lead and then went up by eight or nine in the fourth,” said Ridgeview coach Donnie Frazier. “Once we were able to spread them out and pull them out of that zone, we used our quickness pretty well.”
Union’s zone was effective in slowing Ridgeview (12-3, 5-1) for three quarters. But after the ’Pack got back-to-back baskets from Hailey Sutherland and Cassidy Thomas to go up 43-34, they held the Lady Bears at arm’s length the rest of the way.
“I thought we played well. In the fourth quarter we let the pressure get to us a little bit,” said Union coach Kory Bostic.
“This district is full of good teams and I include us in that mix, and it’s just night in and night out. You’ve got to be ready to play.”
The Lady Wolfpack’s win set up a first-place district showdown at Abingdon (15-1, 6-0) on Friday.
Like Bostic, Frazier said it does not get any easier playing in the Mountain 7.
“It’s going to be another tough game,” Frazier said of the Lady Falcons, who beat Ridgeview in overtime in Clintwood earlier in the season. “Abingdon, Central, Gate City. It’s murderers row right now for us.”
Brooklyn Frazier led Ridgeview’s scorers with 20 points. Thomas finished with 15 points and Sutherland had 12.
Union got 15 points from Jayda Smith, 14 from Abby Slagle and 10 from Heather Lipps.
Union is back in action in district action against Gate City on Friday in Big Stone Gap.