By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
MYRTLE – Thank goodness Tim McDonald wasn’t looking for style points in Thursday night’s Union County Tournament opener against West Union.
McDonald’s Urchins, who nearly blew a 16-point lead in the third quarter, held on to take a 70-59 win against the Eagles at Myrtle High School gym.
The win sends East Union (7-10) into tonight’s semifinals against top-seeded New Albany (15-2).
“It wasn’t very pretty,” McDonald said, “… but it’s always nice to win.”
West Union (4-12) fell behind 49-33 midway in the third quarter on a 3-point play by the Urchins’ Dontrell Lattimore. However, the Eagles switched from their zone defense to a man-to-man and caught East Union off guard.
“If we stayed in zone they would just back out,” Eagles second-year coach Joey Baird said. “We had to get after them.”
Baird said turnovers led to his team falling so far behind.
“I got a young bunch learning how to play and they don’t know the value of taking care of the ball,” he said.
Kyle Taylor kicked off a 14-0 West Union’s run with a layup. By the time Drew Gray sank a pair of free throws, the Eagles had cut the Urchins’ lead to 49-45.
East Union finally adjusted and stopped the Eagles, scoring back-to-back field goals on Broderick Montgomery’s runner and Drew Bruce’s layup to exit the third quarter with a 53-45 lead.
“It’s what we were looking for,” McDonald said, referring to West Union’s defensive switch. “It took us awhile to adjust and get out of a slump.”
Chris Tables scored 15 points and Bruce added 14 for the Urchins, who sank nine 3-pointers.
“We live and die on the perimeter,” McDonald said. “We’re sort of small, so it’s hard to match up post folks.”
Chase Taylor, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, led West Union with 19 points.
– (G) Ingomar 54, East Union 28: Kayla Stevens scored 26 points to lead Ingomar into today’s semifinals against top-ranked and top-seeded New Albany.
– (G) Myrtle 71, West Union 32: Myrtle moved into Saturday’s championship game behind a 19-point scoring effort by Aspriona Gilbert.