So far, through the team’s first 10 games, the Union girls’ basketball team has proven to be right there against division opponents.
In another four weeks the Farmers hope to be right there or better concerning upcoming Union County Tournament competition.
Union produced its second three-game winning streak this Friday afternoon, easily dispatching conference-crossover foe Linden 52-17.
Union’s third road victory put its overall record at 6-4. The Farmers will begin the week of Jan. 18 with a 2-2 mark in the Watchung Division of the Union County Conference.
The Farmers began the season with a loss to defending division champion Roselle Catholic, but since then they went on to win two of their next three division games, defeating defending Group 1 state champion New Providence, falling to defending UCT champ Patrick School of Elizabeth and defeating much-improved Cranford.
Union’s 11th game, scheduled for Jan. 19, will be against the only other team in its division that it has yet to face, which is Westfield.
After a crossover setback at Governor Livingston 40-39 and then a home defeat to league foe Patrick School 56-42 last week, the Farmers rebounded to win all three of their games this past week, including crossover matchups against Scotch Plains and Linden sandwiched around a league triumph over Cranford.
“We’re pretty much where we thought we would be at this point,” said head coach Justin Meyer, a Bloomfield graduate who is in his 14th season at the helm of the Farmers.
In Thursday’s 55-48 home win over Cranford, starter Ayanna Chain poured in a career-high 27 points. The senior guard, who averages 11 points, made 12-of-14 field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers.
“Ayanna was on fire,” Meyer said. “She came up big for us.”
Senior point guard Jasmine Bonaparte, who missed almost all of last year with an ACL injury, netted a season-high 20 points.
“Jasmine is the heart and soul of our team, a true leader,” Meyer said. “She has that burst of speed back.”
Union’s only loss in its three holiday tournament games was to Ramapo 54-30. The Farmers were edged by GL after getting out to a slow start and then taking a 29-23 lead.
“Ramapo was much better,” Meyer said. “The GL game eats at me a bit because we came back and took the lead. We made too many turnovers.”
Meyer also said that Roselle Catholic, in its 66-44 home win over the Farmers, shot the ball extremely well. The Patrick School turned a small lead into double digits on its way past Union.
“All of the teams in our division are very tough,” Meyer said.
Union’s base starting five includes Bonaparte, Chain, forwards Krizia Aponte and Allison Seater and center Nneka Moneme. Aponte is a freshman, Seater a sophomore and Moneme a junior.
Bonaparte leads the team in scoring with a 15-point average, while Moneme leads in rebounding with 12 a game, in addition to averaging seven points.
Sophomore guards that are twins include Alexis McDowell, who started against Linden and Alexandra. Another set of twins on the roster include seniors Jordann and Jada Peters.
The other varsity roster spot features freshman Brianna McNair.
“Against Cranford we showed a lot of hustle and the team played well defensively,” Meyer said. “This past week we made adjustments on the fly and increased our scoring.
“This is a learning experience for many of our players. The more we learn the more we hope to be a tough out come tournament time.”
NOTES: Meyer’s assistant coach the past four seasons has been Frank DeLuca, who played in high school and college. DeLuca was previously an assistant coach for Union’s boys’ team when Tony DiGiovanni was the head coach.
“Frank has been invaluable,” Meyer said. “His defensive philosophy has really guided the girls.”
Union is scheduled to play Essex County foes Columbia and West Orange. The Farmers are at Columbia Jan .23 and will host West Orange Feb. 1.
UNION FARMERS 2015-2016:
Krizia Aponte, freshman, forward
Jasmine Bonaparte, senior, point guard
Ayanna Chain, senior guard
Alexandra McDowell, sophomore guard
Alexis McDowell, sophomore guard
Brianna McNair, freshman forward
Nneka Moneme, junior center
Allison Seater, sophomore forward
Jordann Peters, senior
Jada Peters, senior
Head coach: Justin Meyer
Assistant: Frank DeLuca
Dec. 19 (A) Roselle Catholic 66, Union 44
Dec. 22 (H) Union 39, New Providence 36
Dec. 26 (A) Union 64, Union City 39
Dec. 28 (A) Union 36, Ridgefield Park 34
Dec. 30 (A) Ramapo 54, Union 30
Jan. 5 (A) Gov. Livingston 40, Union 39
Jan. 7 (H) Patrick School 56, Union 42
Jan. 12 (H) Union 52, Scotch Plains 39
Jan. 14 (H) Union 55, Cranford 58
Jan. 15 (A) Union 52, Linden 17
6-4 overall, 2-2 in UCC’s Watchung Division:
Jan. 19 at Westfield, 4 p.m.
Jan. 23 at Columbia, 1 p.m.
Jan. 26 at New Providence, 4 p.m.
Jan. 28 Roselle Catholic, 4 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Patrick School, 1 p.m.
Feb. 1 West Orange, 4 p.m.
Feb. 2 Rahway, 4 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Cranford, 7 p.m.
Feb. 6 at Plainfield, 1 p.m.
Feb. 9 Westfield, 4 p.m.
Feb. 11 Summit, 4 p.m.
Feb. 13 Monroe, 1 p.m.
Feb. 23 at Elizabeth, 4 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Johnson, 4 p.m.
Union County Conference-
Roselle Catholic, Patrick School,
New Providence, Union,
Defending champion: RC.