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Buoyed by Cusano, Rasnick, youthful Bears thump Bearcats in 2D quarterfinals

JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • Feb 26, 2020 at 1:29 AM

BRISTOL, Va. — The future looks like a lot of fun for the well-equipped Union basketball program, but the future may actually be now for Zack Moore’s boys.

“How about fun right now?” Moore insisted. “We’re not done.”

Playing with the confidence of a veteran team despite its youth, Union turned in an impressive 79-54 rout of homestanding Virginia High in a Region 2D quarterfinal held Tuesday night at the Bearcat Den.

The Bears looked like a group ready to take on defending region champion Gate City on Thursday, when the two meet in semifinal play at the Prior Convocation Center on the Virginia-Wise campus.

The winner of that game will advance to the VHSL Class 2 tournament.

“We’ll talk about that later,” said Moore, who is in his 13th year as the program’s boss.

Moore was more interested in discussing how his youngsters — two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior start — are peaking at the right time.

“That’s been our goal all year, to gradually get better and be a team nobody wants to play when it’s tournament time,” he said. “Hopefully that’s us.”

After opening with a few empty possessions, Union found its footing and scored on six straight trips downfloor to gain a 17-7 edge against flustered Virginia High.

Sean Cusano — a 6-foot-4 freshman — led the early charge for Union, scoring on a 3-point jumper, a strong drive and a stickback of a teammate’s missed shot.

Cusano made four 3s all told and scored 21 points to back the outstanding 31- point effort of Alex Rasnick, an ultra-quick and aggressive 5-8 junior guard who made 13 of 22 shots from the floor and dominated with the ball in his hands.

Rasnick scored 19 points in the first half, which ended with Union (17-9) up 38-22.

Virginia High (12-13) never threatened in the second half, trailing 61-37 through three quarters.

“Alex was really on it tonight, scoring-wise,” Moore said. “When he’s that good and hitting shots, we try to get him to his spots.

“We try to run stuff to get him to his little spots, where he can make shots.”

Bradley Bunch and Noah Jordan, a pair of 6-3 sophomores, combined for 19 points for Union, which made 14 of 15 free throws in the game.

“We’ve got a great group of kids,” Moore said. “They work hard and they let me coach them hard.

“When you’ve got that,” the coach added, “the sky can be the limit.”

It was a tough outing for Virginia High, which saw its season come to an end.

The Bearcats — who received a career-high 25 points from Ajaani Delaney — shot just 34% from the floor, compared

to 51.8% for Union.

Gavin Austin, a senior who scored 51 points in one game this season, shot just 1-for-12 from the field in the first half and 3-for-16 for the game. He finished with 10 points.

Virginia High missed a number of contested layups at the rim.

“When you shoot it 25% in the first half you’re not going to win,” said Bearcats coach Wayne Rasnick, who was quick to tip his hat to the Bears.

“We got the shots we wanted but couldn’t convert.”

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