The Union Wildcats boys basketball squad enters district play Tuesday against St. Clair in an opening round matchup for the right to face top-seeded Pacific and Mizzou basketball signee Cullen Van Leer on Friday. You’d be well-within your rights to ask if they’ve caught their collective breath yet, given what transpired Friday night. Or could Union, riding a late season run, have opponents right where they want them?
The Wildcats and Potosi went at it in a game with numbers a video game system would love, a 111-109 final in Union’s favor. Potosi’s Dylan Coleman, an all-state performer in basketball and baseball last season, who’s headed for the Missouri State baseball squad next year, went for 65, while Union was led by Nick Ziegler’s 40. Zeigler and Union Head Coach Chris Simmons shared their perspectives after the game.
“I remember us having 75 then I looked up and it was 91,” Ziegler wrote. “It’s such a fun way to play. I knew it was going to be a tough battle. Both teams went at eachother. It’s fun being on the court with brothers that would do anything for eachother on and off the court,” he said.
“That is exactly how we want the game to be played, up and down. We have no size and we are very athletic so we play a high possession game, force a lot of turnovers, and score a lot of points,” Simmons wrote. While Ziegler said the game plan stays the same, Simmons said Friday differed in that he played Ziegler almost the entire second half and the OT frames instead of using the usual substitution patterns.
“Everybody really made big plays in one way or another, whether it was rebounds, flying around making deflections, hitting big shots, or making sound decisions down the stretch,” Simmons said. We have won 9 of our last 11 and both losses were by 2 points to good teams, so our kids are really confident and we are playing our best basketball at the right time of the year. Our style of play is so different that we are always a tough matchup and then our kids are so confident right now. This hasn’t been done at Union in a long time so our school and community is really enjoying, plus the style is so fun to watch. This game was a game that these will never forget and will talk about when they are forty years old. It’s a close knit group which makes it that much more enjoyable.
We have an extremely tough district with Pacific, Borgia, and a hot Sullivan team, but our kids believe and most coaches will tell you that is half the battle. We start off next Tuesday as we go against St. Clair for the 4th time and they are gonna be tough. Winner of that game gets Pacific. It was great for our team to win a close game against a good team, with an elite level player, just to prove to ourselves that we can do it. We will go out and compete Tuesday night and give St. Clair everything we have and go from there.”