UNION – Damon Lynn can shoot the 3, no new development there.
However, Lynn and his Union Catholic teammates proved Sunday that they have the ability to seriously compete against the upper echelon teams in the state.
That is news for a Union Catholic squad that Linden had its hands full with.
Although the Vikings did not come away with a victory, Union Catholic battled state-ranked Linden to the very end before falling 76-67 in a clash of 9-1 Union County teams in the second day of the Inaugural Investors Games at Kean University.
In the fourth of the five games played Sunday at Kean’s Harwood Arena, it was Lynn that led all scorers with an electric 32-point effort that included eight 3-pointers.
Lynn, a Hillside resident, made five-of-six 3-point attempts in the second quarter to give Union Catholic a 43-36 halftime lead. The only 3 he missed in the period was a LONG 3-point attempt he heaved right before the halftime buzzer.
“No guard ever did to us what Lynn did to us today,” said Linden head coach Phil Colicchio. “When you get hot like that it’s like you kick the ball and it goes in.”
Lynn pulled up and hit 3-pointers from all over the court in the second half, scoring 17 of his points in an eight-minute period Union Catholic outscored Linden 28-20.
“I just got into a rhythm,” said Lynn, who was averaging 29 points going in.
The three-year varsity starter reached and passed 1,000 career points when he netted 15 in an 82-48 win over Morristown-Beard Dec. 29 in the Al LoBalbo Memorial Classic at St. Mary’s of Elizabeth.
Lynn’s season-high is 42.
“He showed tonight that he can play against anybody,” Union Catholic head coach Jim Reagan said.
Union Catholic went on two 10-0 runs in the first half, the first one bridging the first and second quarters. The Vikings scored the first eight points of the second quarter, including consecutive 3-pointers by Lynn, both from the top of the key.
The Vikings were also sparked by an outstanding effort from junior guard Ashton Lofton, who finished with 18 points, including a 3-pointer in the second quarter. Union Catholic made six 3s in the second.
“We’ve been shooting the ball real well so far this year and winning with a whole team process,” Reagan said. “It’s really been team-basketball for us this year.”
Linden was led by 6-8 junior center Quadri Moore, but not until he established himself inside in the second half. After producing just five points by intermission after playing the second quarter with two fouls – Moore began the second half with three fouls and picked up a fourth, but did not foul out – Moore finished with a team-high 24 points.
Linden teammates such as junior forward Alonzo Hamilton and sophomore guard Juwan Dolbrice started to get Moore the ball and he dunked it home for 19 second-half points.
Hamilton also made his presence felt in the second half, scoring 10 of his 12 points.
Linden outscored Union Catholic 22-7 in the third quarter to take the lead for good.
“Once the big guy (Moore) went off the high pick and roll that was it,” Reagan said. “They forced us to shoot the ball and our shots were not falling. Linden made a nice adjustment.”
Linden (10-1) bounced back from its first loss of the year, a 70-51 Union County Conference-Watchung Division setback at home Thursday night to The Patrick School of Elizabeth.
“Our goal is to not go undefeated,” Colicchio said. “I usually schedule losses. It’s how you bounce back from them.”
Union Catholic (9-2) leads the UCC’s Mountain Division with a 7-0 mark.
“We showed that we can compete with a Watchung Division team,” Reagan said.
UNION CATHOLIC (9-2) 15 28 7 17 – 67
LINDEN (10-1) 16 20 22 18 – 76
UNION CATHOLIC VIKINGS (67):
5-Damon Lynn, senior, 2-8-4-32
4-Ashton Lofton, junior, 6-1-3-18
23-Dayne Horrobin, senior, 3-0-0-6
20-David Hawthorne, junior, 2-0-0-4
13-Serge Gilbert, sophomore, 0-0-4-4
44-Jahad Harris, senior, 1-0-1-3
Starters: Hawthorne, Harris,
Horrobin, Lynn, Lofton
LINDEN TIGERS (76):
30-Quadri Moore, junior, 10-1-1-24
23-Alonzo Hamilton, junior, 5-0-2-12
2-Joshua Carter, sophomore, 6-1-0-15
1-Juwan Dolbrice, sophomore, 1-0-3-5
5-Juwan Jones, junior, 1-1-0-5
3-Cairo Brown, senior, 2-1-4-11
15-Udraka Bey, senior, 0-0-2-2
23-James Julius, sophomore, 1-0-0-2
Starters: Moore, Jones,
Hamilton, Dolbrice, Brown